Feeds

PLCs a prison vulnerability: researchers

Now there’s a jailbreak

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Hard on the heels of warnings that critical systems in America are vulnerable to Stuxnet-style attacks, a group of security researchers says SCADA systems and PLCs make prisons vulnerable to computer-based attacks.

In a white paper published here, Teague Newman, Tiffany Rad and John Strauchs say the use of PLCs (programmable logic controllers) to control systems such as cell doors means that prisons inherit the vulnerabilities of PLC-based systems.

There isn’t actually much that’s new in their document: if SCADA and PLC systems are vulnerable to attacks, then so are the systems they control. The main point of the discussion is that most people, includingepl perhaps the authorities operating prisons, are only dimly aware of the extent to which physical security is a function of IT security.

PLCs are deployed in jails because of the complex controls needed: there are rules (for example) dictating which doors may be open at the same time, what times different doors may be open, which alarms or alerts (if any) should be sounded for different doors or combinations of doors being open, and so on.

If an attacker were able to infiltrate a Stuxnet-like worm into the prison environment, the paper’s authors say, they might be in a position to suppress alarms, open doors, or even damage systems by overriding the systems that limit how many door mechanisms can operate at once.

Of course, if prisons using PLCs are vulnerable to computer-based attacks, so are any facilities that use SCADA systems in access control, to the extent that such control systems are either accessible to the Internet, or vulnerable to a “poisoned USB key” attack.

Strauchs plans to demonstrate a proof-of-concept at Defcon next week. ®

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
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
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
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.