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Security Attacks on Major Systems

Posted on: April 24th, 2013

Security AttacksSecurity attacks are all over the news. This has caused widespread panic in some circles, particularly with regard to compromised supervisory control and data acquisition of key forces and government agency systems. Most recently agencies have looked at the technology controlling equipment at agencies including nuclear power plants, factories, airports and related industries. Were viruses, malware, and worms to be introduced into such powerful agencies, the detriment could be devastating.

This has been a growing focus of interest among many security authorities throughout the nation and globe particularly given heightened reports of virus and security breaches. The Stuxnet worm is one of the most popular and well-known worms, for getting into the Iranian lab facility and interfering with the functioning with equipment there before getting onto the internet.

Previous to now researchers felt they had some idea of how this worm worked. A team of U.S. researchers working with Israeli officials have now challenged the previous theory, believing that a malware virus was interjected into application by an infection that took root in the plants control systems first.

As part of this investigation, Trend Micro, a leading security provider and researcher, set up internet-facing security analysis honeypots, which were devised to record various attacks and attempted attacks on equipment. The honeypot architecture is a system developed with multiple features including a PLC or logic controller that is programmable. Honeypots can also be programmed as web pages or servers that will mimic the control interface that are connected to the controller systems on certain devices. Other honeypots connected in this instance included one connected to the programmable logic controller device so that it could model the temperature modulating systems in the factory. These systems were created to have the same or similar weaknesses that other systems would have.

The researchers through a series of investigations, recorded anything that was threatening to the ICS/SCADA systems including anyone trying to access the sites without authorizations or anyone trying to modify the system controllers.

The results of their investigations showed that many attacks were developed to change CPU fan speeds, or to exploit the ICS protocols, and to infest the systems with malware. A large majority of attacks originated from hackers in China but researchers also showed attacks coming from an area in southeast Asia near Laos.

How This Affects You

How does this affect you? It may not affect you personally yet, but any malicious attacks that are made into complex systems including nuclear reactors or airports may eventually affect your ability to travel or your wellbeing. News of this level also demonstrates how hackers often also attempt to get into a computer system by attacking the control panels, and by infesting computers with malware. They may also try to affect systematic controls like a computers fans. To protect your personal servers and equipment, one of the best recourses that you have is investing in a proxy server, which is a good personal defense against hacker and malware attacks. Cheap private proxies can also be set up to protect a business from unwanted cyber attacks on controls and hardware.

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