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Protecting Industrial Control Systems from Spectre and Meltdown
2018-01-05

The big news today is the Spectre and Meltdown bugs. These vulnerabilities let attack code such as Javascript steal passwords, encryption keys and session cookies from kernel memory and/or browser windows on nearly all modern computers. The performance hits and code changes needed to fix these bugs are extensive. A LOT of costly testing will be needed in the very short term before fixes for Meltdown and Spectre can safely be applied to our ICS/OT/SCADA networks. The only bright spot in this situation is that as usual, Waterfall customers are taking these developments in stride.

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Nuclear Security Compromise - Not On Our Watch

Recent reports of cyber attacks on U.S. nuclear reactors have brought upon public doubt on the strength of cyber protections at nuclear power plants. The response from nuclear plants has resoundingly been "no need to panic, nothing to see here," but other pundits are saying "I'm not sure I believe that." Looking between these narratives, what should the public believe?

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Insights From The NERC CIP Emerging Technologies Round Table

I recently attended the NERC CIP Emerging Technologies Round Table meeting on Cloud & IoT, where a primary focus was Bulk Electric System (BES) Cyber Systems in the cloud. BES Cyber Systems are systems with an adverse effect on the BES within 15 minutes of failure or compromise. Interestingly, the most thought-provoking discussion at the end of the day had to do with the Internet, not with the cloud.

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Control Is Not Data

IT gurus tell us that control system security is essentially the same as IT security, and that both are about "protecting the data." The gurus tell us that, yes, there are two kinds of "data" in control systems - monitoring data and control data - but "data is data." They tell us that all we need to do is protect the CIA, or AIC, or IAC, or something, of the data and we're done - we're secure.

They are wrong.

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SCADA Security Site Launched

www.scada-security.ca is live. The site is focused on approaches to modern SCADA Security education. One of the things I'm doing at Waterfall Security Solutions, is working with a couple of different universities to add SCADA security content to their undergraduate and graduate programs. As those efforts bear fruit, I will be posting pointers here to different sorts of course content.

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SCADA Security Published

My book SCADA Security - What's broken and how to fix it is live on Amazon in soft-cover and Kindle formats. The book's launch was the Waterfall/TDi mingle at the ICSJWG last month, with copies available for all ICSJWG attendees complements of Waterfall Security Solutions.

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Protecting Critical Infrastructure Published

Cyber-Physical Security - Protecting Critical Infrastructure at the State and Local Level was published recently. I contributed chapter 4 "Cyber Perimeters for Critical Infrastructures." Essential to modern thinking about control system network perimeters is the concept of "trust," "criticality," or "impact" - different authors use different words for the concept.

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Andrew Ginter spent his career leading the development of control system products, IT/OT middleware products, and SCADA security products. Andrew is the VP Industrial Security at Waterfall Security Solutions and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Michigan Technological University.