Search Engine Identifies Vulnerable SCADA Systems – New Challenge for Information Security Experts



Search Engine Identifies Vulnerable SCADA Systems – New Challenge for Information Security Experts

Recently, the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) reported that SHODAN, a search engine is capable of discovering vulnerable SCADA systems connected to Internet. The report was based on the findings by independent information security professionals. The revelation puts numerous computer systems across critical industries vulnerable to hacking attacks. The search engine scans different ports for devices connected to the Internet. The search even reveals information such as HTTP server responses, get responses, FTP and Telnet service banners, networking banners, license agreements and employee files. Ironically, the revelation comes at a time, when information security professionals are grappling with the challenges posed by the Stuxnet cyber weapon targeted primarily at industrial installations.

The identified systems have weak authentication mechanisms. Most of the systems were primarily designed for monitoring purposes. The revealed systems are susceptible to any type of brute force attack and asymmetric attacks, such as one where the attacker tries to break into a system to take information but does not want to hurt the company’s critical data.

“This kind of work is a new low point in the war between cyber criminals and law enforcement agencies,” Mr. gathers. “CERT and other organizations that have threatened to expose vulnerabilities in the critical infrastructure sector are engaging in what amounts to a public service ad campaign.”

The revelation creates challenges for information security professionals. While enterprises must ensure that their networks are configured securely, networks must be understood and verified for it to be possible to reach this goal. Secured systems must be further enhanced to prevent unlawful access and misuse.

The disclosure also reveals vulnerabilities in many systems. Further, the revealed systems often lack effective checks and balances to prevent unlawful access. Being aware of the potential threats in the networking environment and taking measures to protect your systems, provides advantages for your business, research and might even save you from being the next victim of cybercrime.

The disclosure makes it vital for IT professionals to further their education to enable them identify vulnerabilities in the networks to be protected. It also calls for the clarification of system and network administrators on how to ensure secured systems are running.The disclosure has also revealed that many times, the architecture of a SCADA system is not adequately protected, making SCADA systems vulnerable to vulnerabilities.

SCADA systems are being developed rapidly with sophisticated computers and strong software packages. The cloud computing technology provides resources and services to enhance the confidence of the end user and also increases the efficiency of the system. The systems are fitted with advanced communication networks that are network aware. The end-user is able to use the system’s capabilities to perform safely and securely.

The disclosure Details numerous vulnerabilities including multiple loop holes in web applications and web servers, inbound and outbound firewall attacks, security holes in components, including the core and applications, programming errors, and typical attack vectors.

A shorter outline speech by Mr. Peter Norheim, the Executive Director of the SANS Institute, put this issue in perspective saying, “Vulnerabilities that were previously exploited only by the hackers of nation-states and big businesses have now been made known. Small- to medium-sized businesses, and even individuals and small entities – including true small businesses – can now expect to be victimized by cybercriminals.”

A recent research conducted by the Internet Security Alliance and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) reckon computer and mobile device risks to be increasing at an alarming rate. According to the survey, 17.4 million Americans, or 37.1 percent of consumers with an active wireless device, may be planning on using a wireless network this year. Certainly, wireless network availability has increased in past years.

However, the large majority – 80 percent – of consumers have not deployed an adequate amount of security technology to guard against cyber threats. This, assuming you are using the latest version of your wireless access technology (A Praxis Technologies smart phone application is available that provides integrated threat awareness and scanning for all Praxis devices).

Mr. Norheim warns that organizations must expect to face increased security costs for failing to properly implement security measures: “If organizations don’t have clear evidence of the level of risk, and they are leaving this data in an insecure state, then they are likely to face real consequences in future years.”

He cites a survey conducted by the Internet Security Alliance and the National Association of Manufacturers that claimsiment monitoring software (a category that includes intrusion detection systems and intrusion prevention systems) for 79 percent of U.S. businesses is currently not up to date.

The steps that organizations can take to enhance network security are varied. It is important to select the ones that best suit your unique configuration and requirements. Such software can streamline computer information security procedures in a way that also enables users to regain their computer’s productivity quickly.

Healthcare organizations face particular threats to computer security.