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Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

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  • Deviant Ollam
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    Originally posted by renderman View Post
    Generators blow, lines fail, water mains burst, it's all things we live with. How is the effect any different if it's caused by an outside source?
    it still can send you into a small skid when it happens unexpectedly, heh.

    last night all the Sprint phones in the area went out of service for an hour or so. i don't know if it was just that carrier, since most folk i know are on there.

    at least i still had the internet and thanks to the neighbor next door there's no shortage of short- and long-range radio gear if any real interruption in communication technology were to happen.

    i do look forward to render and prez's talk at DEFCON. short of keeping the shotgun ready and the bug-out-bag packed, there's not a lot of disaster preparation that goes on 'round here.

    Leave a comment:


  • streaker69
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    http://www.pacetoday.com.au/Article/...ds/480902.aspx

    I just ran across this today. I haven't been able to find much in technical details, but if this is anything like the other items I found related to Wireless and SCADA it will be far from secure, and this is a brand new product.

    Leave a comment:


  • xor
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    Originally posted by renderman View Post
    An observation made by myself a while ago about hacking power grids, phone networks (outages, not phreaking), water systems, is that the hysteria level is exponentially tied to the perceived cause.

    Power failures happen. Be it rolling Enron blackouts or jackass in a car taking out a transformer on the highway. Most people just deal with it and light some candles or something and continue on (another observation is that birth rates 9 months from the blackout are directly proportional to the length of the blackout)

    It's when people perceive that a malicious hand was at work that the fear skyrockets, even though the resulting effect on the people is the same.

    How much work would it take to re-create the 2003 blackouts? My uneducated guess is more than an average bad guy is willing to put in, particularly if he wants to keep things down for longer by destroying equipment rather than sabotage that can be repaired.

    Generators blow, lines fail, water mains burst, it's all things we live with. How is the effect any different if it's caused by an outside source?
    The things people should be concerned about they're not. Things like solar flares, and directed energy weapons which could actually destroy infrastructure as well as personal items on a large scale for a long time.

    xor

    Leave a comment:


  • renderman
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    An observation made by myself a while ago about hacking power grids, phone networks (outages, not phreaking), water systems, is that the hysteria level is exponentially tied to the perceived cause.

    Power failures happen. Be it rolling Enron blackouts or jackass in a car taking out a transformer on the highway. Most people just deal with it and light some candles or something and continue on (another observation is that birth rates 9 months from the blackout are directly proportional to the length of the blackout)

    It's when people perceive that a malicious hand was at work that the fear skyrockets, even though the resulting effect on the people is the same.

    How much work would it take to re-create the 2003 blackouts? My uneducated guess is more than an average bad guy is willing to put in, particularly if he wants to keep things down for longer by destroying equipment rather than sabotage that can be repaired.

    Generators blow, lines fail, water mains burst, it's all things we live with. How is the effect any different if it's caused by an outside source?

    Leave a comment:


  • Thorn
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    This was on the InfoSec New list this morning, and sums up the whole thing quite nicely, I think:

    Originally posted by Richard Forno <rforno AT infowarrior DOT org>

    Jeebus. Everyone in the world needs to take a deep breath and calm the hell down here. They're screaming bloody murder about hackers and the power grids and ZMFGTHESKYISFALLING. How quickly they forget that this kind of stuff was reported / found / observed in the 1996 PCCIP report that kicked off the whole notion of "infrastructure protection" and scaring folks into creating the whole CIP industry. Yet they continued to sacrifice security/survivability for convenience and cost-cutting, with the obvious results. (to competent infosec folks, anyway)

    Bottom line? Screw the breathless hysteria and headlines, WE ARE DOING THIS TO OURSELVES.

    -rf

    Leave a comment:


  • streaker69
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    Originally posted by xor View Post

    What I hate about these reports is that they lack the why, or any plausible scenarios. Just be afraid, be very afraid. Anything that man can break we can fix and make it better. Heck you don't need cyberspace to knock out the Eastern Sea boards power grid just blow up a transformer in the Niagara Falls valley.
    The blackout of August 2003, if I recall, was abated because the guys that run the grid in PA went against policy and took us off the grid. When they saw the cascade start they made the decision, pretty much on their own to disconnect from the main grid and saved us from going dark. It probably also created a "fire-break" to keep the cascade from rolling into other states.

    From the articles that I have about it, it was a combination of issues that caused it's start. A transformer burning up at a substation in conjunction with the slammer worm.

    Even if the grid were to fail, short of a high altitude EMP, it wouldn't be a major disaster. Life will go on, most of the other utilities have their own contingency plans for a major power failure.

    Leave a comment:


  • xor
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    While the power grid is technically a dumb network of switches and knobs one could hack into the substation wireless telemetry network and alter the data making people throw the wrong switches and knobs. Therefore creating either a DOS attack or something more destructive. I typically see yagi antennas at most substations these days. I'm no expert but I assume they serve a purpose.

    http://www.getwirelessllc.com/Soluti..._Utilities.cfm

    I personally hate all the fear mongering. I grew up in a time when we faced a real threat, the USSR and 30k + nuclear war heads pointed at us. A country that had a boots on the ground intelligence capability that was second to none. Yet we prevailed, and the very real threat of nuclear holocaust is now taken a back seat to a bunch of guys living in caves with AK-47's. Sad when you put it into a little historical perspective.

    What I hate about these reports is that they lack the why, or any plausible scenarios. Just be afraid, be very afraid. Anything that man can break we can fix and make it better. Heck you don't need cyberspace to knock out the Eastern Sea boards power grid just blow up a transformer in the Niagara Falls valley.

    xor

    Also democrats don't fear monger, we hawk prudence; we don't seek and destroy, we sweep and clear; we don't Wage a War On Terror, we perform Overseas Contingency Operations. (rolls eyes)

    Note to America: Please grow a pair.
    Last edited by xor; April 8, 2009, 16:05.

    Leave a comment:


  • bjaming
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    Could get hacked? the power grid has been hacked many times...

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ower-grid.html

    this is just the most recent.

    Leave a comment:


  • streaker69
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    Originally posted by renderman View Post
    On one of the channels I'm on most of the time, one of the guys went on a rant about it and has some authority on the subject since he does pen-tests on power plants and the like.

    Everything he's seen come down the pipe is just your run of the mill malware that is on far too many machines already and doesn't appear to be something specific to the grid or a specific purpose.

    From this, one can make a conjecture as to the actual circumstances;

    1. Malware hops the airgap (if any that is) and gets into the c&c system at some facilities.
    2. Since most of the common malware is controlled by shady business types in china and russia the malware found is 'from russia and china'
    3. Ergo, the chinese and russians must be penetrating the grid for some nefarious purpose (other than to sel wang enhancement projects)
    4. Take this information, call a few reporters, make a stink in order to justify spending more money to fix real problems, like the lack of a plasma TV in the break room

    That's not to say there haven't been actual penetrations, but I'm wagering that alot of the rhetoric was about non-targeted malware being touted to drum up business for someone/something

    Just my $0.02
    I agree with you 100% on this. That is what it seems to me, a bunch of scaremongering.

    Leave a comment:


  • renderman
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    On one of the channels I'm on most of the time, one of the guys went on a rant about it and has some authority on the subject since he does pen-tests on power plants and the like.

    Everything he's seen come down the pipe is just your run of the mill malware that is on far too many machines already and doesn't appear to be something specific to the grid or a specific purpose.

    From this, one can make a conjecture as to the actual circumstances;

    1. Malware hops the airgap (if any that is) and gets into the c&c system at some facilities.
    2. Since most of the common malware is controlled by shady business types in china and russia the malware found is 'from russia and china'
    3. Ergo, the chinese and russians must be penetrating the grid for some nefarious purpose (other than to sel wang enhancement projects)
    4. Take this information, call a few reporters, make a stink in order to justify spending more money to fix real problems, like the lack of a plasma TV in the break room

    That's not to say there haven't been actual penetrations, but I'm wagering that alot of the rhetoric was about non-targeted malware being touted to drum up business for someone/something

    Just my $0.02

    Leave a comment:


  • xor
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    Originally posted by Thorn View Post
    Only if you're an ex-Mac hipster who plays with dolls, accompanied by a world-weary old cop.

    "Yippi-kay-ay, motherfu - "
    I guess I'll have to hang around with you more often John

    xor

    Leave a comment:


  • Thorn
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    Originally posted by xor View Post
    They can't shut down the internet we will just re-program our cell phones and surf the old Sat-Coms. Isn't that what hackers do all the time?

    xor
    Only if you're an ex-Mac hipster who plays with dolls, accompanied by a world-weary old cop.

    "Yippi-kay-ay, motherfu - "


    In a story today about attacking the grid, the Wall Street Journal says that the Electricity Grid in U.S. Penetrated By Spies


    By Siobhan Gorman
    Technology
    Wall Street Journal
    April 8, 2009

    WASHINGTON -- Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.

    The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S.
    electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven't sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.

    "The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid," said a senior intelligence official. "So have the Russians."

    The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn't target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official. "There are intrusions, and they are growing," the former official said, referring to electrical systems. "There were a lot last year."

    <...>
    Last edited by Thorn; April 8, 2009, 08:35. Reason: Added WSJ article

    Leave a comment:


  • xor
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    Originally posted by streaker69 View Post
    Normal Malware or grandstanding for political gain?

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123914805204099085.html

    Without going too much into the TFB area, this kind of article released so soon after the article that Obama is making an attempt to get a law passed that the internet can be shut down in case of "national emergency", is this just an attempt to incite fear into the teaming masses?
    They can't shut down the internet we will just re-program our cell phones and surf the old Sat-Coms. Isn't that what hackers do all the time?

    xor

    Leave a comment:


  • streaker69
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    Normal Malware or grandstanding for political gain?

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123914805204099085.html

    Without going too much into the TFB area, this kind of article released so soon after the article that Obama is making an attempt to get a law passed that the internet can be shut down in case of "national emergency", is this just an attempt to incite fear into the teaming masses?

    Leave a comment:


  • beakmyn
    replied
    Re: Don't make the power grid smart: IT COULD GET HACKED!

    The webmin is a bad idea, if the machine is on a subnet that is available to the outside world. I get sales guy touting easy access to plant data from down the hall to out on the beach, thousands of miles away. Most of these types of applications rely on pre-existing windows security and offer little to none of their own.

    It doesn't help that sales guy says. It's so easy to get your plant data just set you browser to http:\\192.168.1.1 and it'll automatically install the needed Activex and within a couple of minutes you can complety control your network from anywhere !

    In my experience the IT department typically wants nothing to with the SCADA systems. So, although they are on <sometimes> on seperate subnets, since they are not part of the domain you have. User security typically autologin of an admin account, little to no patching beyond initial install and no antivirus.

    The HMI (Human machine interface), the gui of the SCADA system typically is underprotected as well. Many systems use easy to guess usernames and passwords, if any at all. Then again for some programs all you need to do is delete the password file and it will be recreated with the factory default adminstrator.

    The only thing that deters issues is proprietary protocols and programs that cost thousands of dollars.

    However, if all you want to do is create havoc, then port scan the control network.It's widely known that PLCs, RTUs etc use only a small subset of the TCP/IP stack and therefore are not robust to such "attacks". A port scan can do anything from create a temporary interruption to completely faulting the network. Which requires a power-on reset of the ethernet communications device(s). Either condition can cause catostrophic consequences for a critical process. I've seen something like a virus scan cripple a system resulting in a million dollar process loss.

    I also see a lot more wireless going in too and that makes me cringe. While it may be useful or cost saving in some cicrumstances, there is the occasion where it's simply implemented because it's the latest whiz bang feature managment got sold on. In fact I've got one system that uses a wireless barcode scanner to the SCADA system. Sounds nice but it only supports WEP!

    SCADA is no where near as robust as it needs to be and is many years away from any real security. It's an 'open' system that requires little or no authentication.

    Leave a comment:

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