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.


About the Author:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at

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