Industrial Control Systems Hit by Malware

pic3-44A new report from the Repository of Industrial Security Incidents (RISI) shows that, over the past five years, the industrial control systems that run utility plants--including power, water, and wastewater--are increasingly subject to security breaches involving malware and viruses. And this is despite only 10 percent of industrial control systems being directly connected to the internet.

As reported on DarkReading, over the past five years,

Cybersecurity incidents in...water and wastewater [control systems] have increased 300 percent, and power/utilities by 30 percent, according to the 2009 Annual Report on Cyber Security Incidents and Trends Affecting Industrial Control Systems.

Nearly half of all security incidents were due to malware infections -- viruses, worms, and Trojans.... With only a fraction of control systems connected to the Internet, these infections are occurring in other ways: "A lot of control systems are connected to their business networks which in turn may be connected to the Internet. It's several layers removed, but once there's a virus [on the business network], it finds its way into the control systems".... "And you see USB keys bringing in malware"...or via an employee's infected laptop....

In addition, with some of these control systems running on Windows-based platforms, the lack of internet connection means operating system security patches are rarely applied, leaving the entire system vulnerable to attack once a rogue worm or trojan horse finds its way onto the network.

According to the RISI report, direct and intentional attacks accounted for 25 percent of these security incidents. The other 75 percent consisted of malware-based breaches and equipment failures, in roughly equal measure.