On November 20, 2008, security analyst Philip Porras discovered what started out as a seemingly trivial worm virus not unlike the many he and his colleagues had caught previously. But what caught the expert's attention this time was the unprecedented rate at which the new virus multiplied across networks through a vulnerability in Windows, as well the stealthy elegance with which it was designed.Read More >
The Conficker worm didn't just hit PCs -- it also infected several hundred critical medical devices, a security expert said in a panel at the RSA security conference. Right now it's unclear how the devices, which control things like heart monitors and MRI machines, got infected. But it underlines the need to secure medical systems with embedded firewalls and anti-malware software like Mocana's NanoDefender™.
The computers are older machines running Windows NT and Windows 2000 in a local area network that was not supposed to have access to the Internet, however, the network was connected to one that has direct Internet access and so they were infected, he [Marcus Sachs, director of the SANS Internet Storm Center and a former White House cybersecurity official] recently told CNET news.
The situation illustrates the dangers of connecting critical networks, like in hospitals and in SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems used by utilities and other critical infrastructure providers, with networks connected to the Internet, he said during the panel "Securing Critical Infrastructures: Infrastructure Exposed."
"We're seeing a huge uptick in probing for SCADA systems," said Jerry Dixon, director of analysis and vice president of government relations at research firm Team Cymru. For years, the SCADA systems were separated from the public networks, but that's not the case anymore, he said.
While PCs do remain the primary targets, hackers and malware-writers are increasingly setting their sites on non-PC SCADA devices attached to the network. In other words, as PC security mechanisms have become more sophisticated, non-PC SCADA devices are becoming the more attractive, comparatively "soft" targets -- an easier way into the host network, thereby threatening our critical national infrastructure.
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