Saturday, October 21, 2017

Public ICS Disclosure – Week of 10-15-17

We have two publicly disclosed industrial control system product vulnerabilities this week that were not addressed by ICS-CERT; one reported by a security researcher and the other self-reported by the vendor.

HP Vulnerability

On Wednesday Maor Shwartz from SecuriTeam described on FullDisclosure a cross-site scripting vulnerability in the Hewlett Packard Baseline Smart Gig SFP 24 ethernet switch. This product was acquired by HP from 3Com (3Com Baseline Switch 2924 SFP Plus Switch) and is no longer supported, so no fix is forth coming. The SecuriTeam blog provides a proof of concept exploit for the vulnerability.

ABB Vulnerability

On Tuesday Joel Langill, on LinkedIn, pointed out a cybersecurity advisory from ABB on their FOX515T release 1.0 communications equipment. It describes a local file inclusion vulnerability in the embedded web server. This is another out-of-service product with no fix in the works.


Joel and I had a brief discussion on LinkedIn about this type of out-of-service vulnerability reporting. I had my typical snarky comment about no one using out-of-service equipment in the ICS realm. Joel had a very interesting reply:

“Like so many of the ICS-CERT advisories. Still wonder why they waste valuable time on disclosures of unsupported equipment. My lab is still a wealth of discovery and exploitation! But I prefer to keep these vulns quiet.”

I have to vigorously disagree with Joel. I think that someone needs to publicize these types of vulnerability reports because so many facilities are actually continuing to use ‘outdated’ control system devices on the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ model. Depending on the severity of the vulnerability (and the site-specific risk calculation) the disclosure of these vulnerabilities may be just the ‘it is broke’ incentive that owners need to replace the equipment to avoid the vulnerability. Holding these vulnerabilities in-house (either at a researcher or vendor level) provides little service to owners.

Now, there is a legitimate question if this is an appropriate function for ICS-CERT to perform. I point at them as the default government agency in the control system security realm, but they do not have a specific mandate to do this nor do they have a specific mandate of any kind. They are an agency created out of whole cloth by DHS without specific authorization by Congress. A necessary move, to be sure, but there has been no public discussion of, or political determination of, the specific role of the organization. That really needs to change.

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