SCADA Systems Vulnerable Due to Hard Coded Passwords

We have discussed the dangers to what NIST identifies as Critical Infrastructure that exists because SCADA and other industrial control systems are designed to be run on “air-gapped” networks that are not connected to the public Internet.  Unfortunately, many of these systems are being connected to the Internet, if only in a tangential way.

The German security firm OpenSource Security recently found hard coded passwords in a system from Schneider Electric, specifically, the Modicon TM221CE16R logic controller.

Hard coded passwords turn up in other devices, too, including Android apps, other sotware applications, network and Internet router firmware, and over 300 medical devices from 40 vendors.  In some cases, these passwords cannot be changed by the end-user.

This makes it relatively easy for an attacker to search the source code for embedded passwords, and once the device is successfully accessed, it can be used by the attacker to pivot onto other systems attached to the network.

If you are running a SCADA system, you should be talking to  your vendor about these sorts of vulnerabilities, and getting help clearing them up.  The rest of us who rely on SCADA systems that control electrical, water, sewage, and similar distribution systems just have to hope that the people running these systems are looking into this situation.

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About the Author:

Cybersecurity guru to business owners in the St Paul, Minneapolis, and western Wisconsin area. Computer security and hacking have been a passion of mine since I entered the computer and networking business in 2000. In 2013 I completed a course of study and certification exam to become a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). In 2016 I was certified as a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). As Senior Cybersecurity Engineer at Computer Integration Technologies, I help our clients experience high levels of computer security, network security, and web site security. In addition to consulting on security products and services, we also conduct security audits, vulnerability assessments and full penetration tests. We also provide Cybersecurity Awareness Training for clients and their employees. We also work with companies and organizations that need to certify compliance with regulations such as PCI-DSS (credit card processing), HIPAA/HITECH (medical records), and GLBA. The views expressed on this Web site are mine alone and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer.

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