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Epic fail x 2.
The USB attack running rampant in the wild targets Siemens SCADA systems.
SCADA systems are industrial control systems. They control - and monitor and defend - processes associated with manufacturing, production, power generation, fabrication, refining.
SCADA systems can protect infrastructure processes in both the public and private sectors. Processes such as water treatment and distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, oil and gas pipelines, electrical power transmission and distribution, wind farms, civil defence siren systems, large communication systems.
SCADA systems protect buildings, airports, ships, space stations.
They're pretty critical.
The USB attack described here specifically attacks Siemens SCADA systems.
SCADA systems are particularly complex. Their various components have to communicate with one another. And for security purposes these communications are protected by passwords.
Unfortunately the passwords these systems use worldwide have been known for quite some time.
Yes the same passwords are used universally. On all Siemens SCADA systems worldwide. Yes the current malware strain knows the passwords. They're common knowledge. The current malware strain is directly trying to break into Siemens SCADA systems to either steal corporate secrets or to perform sabotage against critical infrastructure facilities in almost every major player country.
The malware propagates more effectively than the old boot sector virus. The boot sector virus needed someone to forget to remove the infected floppy before rebooting. (Of course it infected floppies if it was already resident.)
But the SCADA attack works on everything. All the time. All one has to do is navigate with a Windows shell-based file manager to the USB in question. Nothing else. No programs run. Just navigate and look. Boom.
Now here's the punch line: you can't change the passwords. Yes you read that right. Change the passwords and the systems can fail.
Siemens engineers have known about this all along. They designed their SCADA systems that way.
Siemens get two splats for this incomparable feat.
- They've constructed a crucial system that's protected only by a password that 1) cannot change; and 2) is known by everyone.
- They've chosen to use Microsoft Windows to protect critical national infrastructure, to protect utility companies, gas and oil pipelines, water systems, civil defence systems, and so forth.
How do you feel knowing your national security and personal safety have all along been dependent on Microsoft Windows? How do you feel now, knowing there's an attack out there in the wild for which there is currently no fix available?
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