Feeds

SCADA industry debates flaw disclosure

Vendors and researchers face off

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Yet, security researchers acknowledge that the software that monitors, manages and runs the variety of manufacturing and infrastructure control systems is indeed different. While researchers can hold the threat of public disclosure over the heads of an uncooperative software maker in the enterprise application arena, publicly outing a flaw in a SCADA or DCS system has larger ramifications, Pollet said.

"You have to be careful disclosing these issues to the public when the vendors seem uninterested in talking about the problem, because these systems cannot be patched overnight and the information could prove devastating in the wrong hands."

Moreover, software vendors and infrastructure operators legitimately need more time because most of the industry's legacy systems were not created to be easily updated.

And, to be fair, LiveData's response to the first SCADA vulnerability handled by a third party - about three to six months for a fix and less than nine months for notification - is in line with the response from many enterprise and commercial software makers. Not bad for an industry that has not had a history of third-party vulnerability disclosure, said Digital Bond's Franz.

"The idea that someone outside their customer base would have access to their product to find vulnerabilities is strange to them," said Franz, who created an interest group within the Process Control Systems Forum to hash out the issues.

Security researchers are not the only ones applying pressure to software developers in the SCADA and DCS industry. The software maker's customers - infrastructure owners and operators - are starting to demand proof of security audits, especially in the power industry where companies are required by a recent law to adhere to the Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) guidelines published by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC).

"The difference that a few months has made is absolutely incredible," said Lori Dustin, vice president of marketing and services for infrastructure security company Verano. "The people I'm meeting with now have a copy of the NERC documents in their hands."

While many in the real-time process control industry might not agree, Invensys's Rakaczky stresses that allowing US-CERT to bring other industries' vulnerability reporting practices to the bear on infrastructure issues should help reduce communications problems and increase trust.

"People will respond faster than if some random white hat calls them up out of the blue," he said.

But, while vendors work with US-CERT and focus on improving product security, infrastructure owners need to move more quickly to prevent unauthorised access to their systems from the internet and implement more strict auditing, Rakaczky said.

"Right now, we need perimeter protection," he said. "We need to stop the wound from bleeding before we can heal it."

This article originally appeared in Security Focus.

Copyright © 2006, SecurityFocus

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.