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CERT warns of critical industrial control bug

Iconics SCADA software open to code execution attacks

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A group collaborating with the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team is warning oil refineries, power plants, and other industrial facilities of a bug in a popular piece of software that could allow attackers to take control of their computer systems.

The vulnerability in the Genesis32 and BizViz products made by Massachusetts-based Iconics could allow attackers to remotely execute malicious code on machines that run these SCADA, or supervisory control and data acquisition, programs, the Industrial Control Systems CERT warned (PDF) on Wednesday. The programs are used to control equipment used in factories, water, wastewater and electric utilities, and oil and gas refineries.

The vulnerability stems from a stack-overflow bug found in an ActiveX control used by the SCADA programs and can be exploited to gain command-execution capability, researchers from Australasia-based Security-Assessment.com warned (PDF).

“By passing a specially crafted string to the 'SetActiveXGUID' method, it is possible to overflow a static buffer and execute arbitrary code on the user's machine with the privileges of the logged on user,” the researchers warned. They included a proof-of-concept exploit written in JavaScript.

Iconics has updated the vulnerable component to plug the security hole. According to the advisory, version 9.22 of Genesis32 and BizViz isn't susceptible to the attack.

US CERT recommends that users of SCADA software take basic precautions to protect themselves from security breaches. The measures include isolating critical devices from the internet and locating networks and remote devices behind firewalls.

Research from last year that suggested state-sponsored hackers attempted to disrupt Iran's nuclear-enrichment efforts by exploiting SCADA vulnerabilities has brought new urgency to security in industrial settings. ®

This story was updated to clarify the CERT group that issued the report.

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