SCADA security just got more serious

19 October 2010

There are reports that a new, more powerful, Stuxnet virus could be unleashed very soon as code is posted on the internet for anyone to copy. Manufacturing, infrastrucure and engineering industries are, therefore being urged to take even tighter preventative measures to protect themselves and not to delay doing this.

David Robinson, UK and Ireland country manager, Norman Data Defense said: ‘It was just a matter of time before the Stuxnet code was published on the web for anyone, with even the most basic knowledge of coding, to alter and potentially wreak havoc on the industry. Now is the time to review IT security, no matter how small the risk. This is big news.’

The news has been flooded with the recent security breach of a major automation company reportedly caused by the Stuxnet virus being carried on a USB memory stick. “This new type of virus has a boot file built-in and now that the code is in the hands of any malware writer it could mutate very quickly,” said Robinson.

However, it is not just memory sticks that can spread this virus. Anyone with a laptop or a device that connects remotely to a wireless network inside a company’s firewall, is putting that company at risk. It will just be a matter of time before Stuxnet, or its successors, are evolved attacking any control systems or any other system that the user connects an infected laptop or portable device to.

Norman Data Defense recently carried out research among workers and found that over half of people surveyed are more cautious with security issues when using their own PC/laptop that they are with their work one. And over three quarters of people would expect a pop up to appear on their screen to alert them to a breach of security, which of course is not always going to happen.

Microsoft has issued patches to help users on Windows systems to protect themselves against Stuxnet, but Robinson warns: ‘My fear is that, with patch management protocols rarely in place in a control system environment, these warnings will go unheeded.’

CEE will be publishing more comment and advice relating to Stuxnet, and its successors in our next issue.

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