Feeds

PLCs a prison vulnerability: researchers

Now there’s a jailbreak

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.