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Stuxnet Virus Now Biggest Threat To Industry

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the or-just-don't-click-attachments dept.

Businesses 254

digitaldc writes "A malicious computer attack that appears to target Iran's nuclear plants can be modified to wreak havoc on industrial control systems around the world, and represents the most dire cyberthreat known to industry, government officials and experts said Wednesday. They warned that industries are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the so-called Stuxnet worm as they merge networks and computer systems to increase efficiency. The growing danger, said lawmakers, makes it imperative that Congress move on legislation that would expand government controls and set requirements to make systems safer."

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254 comments

We should thank Israel, or whoever (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267530)

This is a wake-up call to a new vulnerability. There are a helluva lot worse ways to have found out about it than this relatively innocuous version. It also exposes stupid weaknesses like the fact that all Siemens PLC's (programmable logic controllers) have a hard-coded password [wired.com] that was never meant to be changed, and that all the obscure proprietary software in the world on PLC's doesn't mean jack for security--because they all still have to take their orders from a machine running it software on regular old Windows.

We could have realized these vulnerabilities only after a bunch of stuff started exploding.

Re:We should thank Israel, or whoever (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267602)

this is a wake up call to a new "cyber-vulnerability"! Oh noes! I said the word cyber! It's not a threat, it's a cyberthreat!

yes, this is the hype they want you to believe. Stuxnet is something to be concerned about, but adding the word cyber is just bullshit hype all around.

the rest is just calling into play Siemens shitty programming ethics which are now going to bite them in the ass as businesses and government will probably shy away from business with them until this can be fixed.

Re:We should thank Israel, or whoever (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34267684)

Oh noes!

Just fucking stop that, okay?

Re:We should thank Israel, or whoever (5, Insightful)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267632)

We also could have foreseen these vulnerabilities.

I used to work in industrial automation - in its pre-windows era, and people did put effort into isolation, access control and validation.

After having made the bad decision to deploy on Windows, when years of evidence that it had a horrendous lack of access control, how did Siemens just continue on? What were they thinking?

Re:We should thank Israel, or whoever (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267756)

Yes, according to Captain Hindsight [wikia.com] , we should have secured our PLC's and SCADA infrastructure better years ago.

Re:We should thank Israel, or whoever (2, Insightful)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268246)

Every time someone suggests a Windows based system in _any_ critical situation plenty of people come out shouting how it will undoubtedly lead to the end of the world. Hindsight doesn't even come into it - the possibility of these scenarios was predicted, brought to people's attention and dismissed.

'Captain Hindsight' parodies people who appear out of the woodwork to say what is now blindingly obvious, not people who had the foresight to predict these problems but were ignored.

Re:We should thank Israel, or whoever (1)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267668)

Security? If I have a physical piece of hardware that could cut someones head off, why exactly would I have it connected to a network?

These PLC's operate with a swarm sort of mentality. The network is merely a method for them to communicate. Kind of like how your light switch authenticates you to turn on and off a light.

Oh wait, it doesn't... OMFGz0rs, someone could cause a fire by turning on the light without authentication!

Re:We should thank Israel, or whoever (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267842)

No, the problem is that even if your PLC's aren't networked--the laptop that reprograms them may be at some point (and can be infected with a virus). Even if you pull your whole infrastructure off the network, it doesn't ensure security if Jim the IT guy is using the Step 7 laptop to surf the web, or if any yahoo can stick his thumb drive into said laptop and give it a digital STD.

Re:We should thank Israel, or whoever (1)

wmac (1107843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268002)

This is indeed the way Iranian PCs in nuclear sites were infected. Some people brought the worm inside using USB drives and laptops (based on the intelligence ministry of Iran).

Re:We should thank Israel, or whoever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34268228)

This is very serious cause once I stuck my thumb drive in my wife's lapbottom and I got a S.L.A.P.

Never again... Never again.

Re:We should thank Israel, or whoever (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268084)

I have a piece of hardware that could potentially bludgeon someone or knock them into other equipment that could cut something off (it's a pipe bender, to be specific), and it's connected to a network because our management decided that the operator shouldn't need to be able to read blueprints, but rather a different personnel will read blueprints and create part files that instruct it what to bend, which will be moved to that machine over the network. /sigh

Re:We should thank Israel, or whoever (1)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267932)

This is not new vulnerability, this is old vulnerability called "security through obscurity". Designs of nulclear power plants are not open for review, which leads to these kind of flows quite naturally.

Idea (1, Funny)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267546)

They should run Mac software on PLCs. Macs don't get viruses!

</satire>

Re:Idea (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267862)

They also make you morally superior to and smarter than anyone using a Windows machine. It's common knowledge in any coffee shop or arthouse theater.

Re:Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34268010)

arthouse theater

Also, use of the spelling 'theatre' as opposed to 'theater' give one that little extra European edge and +2 smug points.

Re:Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34268114)

I thought that moral superiority and intelligence came from driving a hybrid. Using an Apple product makes you more hip.

Re:Idea (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268208)

And I only eat whole foods and organically grown vegetables. Between that, my hemp clothing, and my new solar panels; I'm superior to 99.9% of the population now.

industrial control systems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34267572)

Such mission critical systems should NEVER have untrusted media inserted, and they should NEVER be on the public internet. Further, inserting a media such as a USB stick should be safe because nothing should be automatically run.

Is that not the case? This is security 101, just the very, very basics.

Re:industrial control systems? (2, Insightful)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267774)

And what if I pay some random employee of nuclear plant $1 million to run .exe from USB key? Then I possibly can create another Chernobyl. In case of Nuclear plants only solution is to stay with pure electrical control systems and not moving it towards electronical programmable (computer) control systems. If there is no SW, there is no possibility of infection.

The solution (5, Insightful)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267574)

Don't use Windows for important industrial systems.

Re:The solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34268016)

This infects PLCs which are exactly what you want to have running industrial equipment. How, pray tell, do you propose to program these PLCs if not from a Windows machine? Like it or not, Windows is the de facto standard for desktop operating systems.

Re:The solution (4, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268126)

More importantly, don't use control software from companies who mandate that passwords are hard-coded and cannot be changed.

MS: "By the way, the Windows Server 2008 Domain Admin password is 12345. Be sure to write that down!"

IT Industry: "Lolwut? GTFO."
Nuclear Fuel Refinement Industry: "The same as my luggage! I like it!"

Re:The solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34268176)

Right cause you can't possibly subvert other operating systems. I know some make it harder to do than others, but all systems can be subject to exploits.

Likewise, they can use Windows, they just need to take appropriate precautions and steps to secure it. Most people don't take the time (whether thats due to budget, laziness, etc) to all thats necessary. Its that convenience vs. security thing.

Cut the hardlines (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267576)

There's no reason why these machines should be connected to the internet. Maybe some of the top-level communication computers to coordinate between plants, but certainly not the local-area computers/machines.

Re:Cut the hardlines (5, Informative)

keean (824435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267720)

Actually Stuxnet does not require the machines to be connected to the Internet. In infests the machines used by the designers of these systems, and piggy backs on update PLDs (programmable logic devices) for the production machinery. It does not even rely on the PLD programming machines being connected, as it infests the PLD design files. It infests the PLD design engineers workstations when someone plugs an infected laptop into the private network that all the design computers are on.

Re:Cut the hardlines (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268000)

Oh so it's just like when Windows XP(?) shipped with a virus on-board. That should make it easier to control, simply by virus protecting the Engineers desktops.

Re:Cut the hardlines (1)

keean (824435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268218)

Virus detectors only detect known viruses... Even with virus protection, you are vulnerable to unknown viruses.

To make this even more thought provoking, what if the virus detector is infected. What if the 'C' compiler is infected, such that all programs it generated automatically are infected, and cannot detect the infection. If the infection is not spotted soon enough, all virus detection products compiled with the compiler will be infected. What if this has already happened?

Re:Cut the hardlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34267750)

I recall in the UK that the power station control systems were absolutely isolated from the outside world and their own offices. There was no way for anything to get in via a wire. All external devices had to be searched and scanned prior to connection to a system inside the control room.

Re:Cut the hardlines (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267928)

Not strictly true.

I'm sat here at head office, and I can measure 30,000 sensors on over a dozen power stations. There is a link over the internet.

At the power stations, I can walk into the control room with anything I choose. Getting onto the power station site would be more difficult.

But you are right, the control room is not connected to the internet.

Re:Cut the hardlines (2, Informative)

keean (824435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268130)

I said stuxnet does not _need_ the PLC (PLD) containing machines to be connected. In reality they may be connected, but disconnecting them will not stop Stuxnet infecting them as it gets in when the PLC programming is updated.

http://www.symantec.com/content/en/us/enterprise/media/security_response/whitepapers/w32_stuxnet_dossier.pdf [symantec.com]

For reference a "Field PG" is a machine used to program the PLCs not the actual target of the infection.

Quote:
"Once Stuxnet had infected a computer within the organization it began to spread in search of Field PGs, which are typical Windows computers but used to program PLCs. Since most of these computers are non-networked, Stuxnet would first try to spread to other computers on the LAN through a zero-day vulnerability, a two year old vulnerability, infecting Step 7 projects, and through removable drives. Propagation through a LAN likely served as the first step and propagation through removable drives as a means to cover the last and final hop to a Field PG that is never connected to an untrusted network."

Re:Cut the hardlines (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268174)

How do you scan the proprietary upgrade boards used within the control machines themselves? 'Cause that's the method of infection; Infect the engineer's network, get written onto the upgrade software supplied by the engineer, get installed by an engineer.

Re:Cut the hardlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34267790)

There's no reason why these machines should be connected to the internet. Maybe some of the top-level communication computers to coordinate between plants, but certainly not the local-area computers/machines.

You're misunderstanding the problem. The actual control systems aren't connected, but the machines that are used by programmers to program those control systems are. (Just try finding a developer who can develop a control system without referring to online documentation.) The developers' machines get infected, then they generate faulty code.

You could give the developers two machines, one to read docs and a airgapped one on which to write code. Good luck finding anyone in industry willing to foot the bill for two machines.

Re:Cut the hardlines (1)

ichard (170694) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267830)

They don't need to be connected to the Internet to get infected -- they just need to be connected to something, with a link to something else, that happens to share a wireless network with another computer, that once had a laptop connected to it with a crossover cable, that sometime in the past had an infected memory stick plugged in.

Protecting humans from pathogens involves strict biosecurity, and computers are no different. Isolated means *isolated*. Maybe they should use token-ring for the secure network to make sure nothing else can connect :-)

Re:Cut the hardlines (1)

keean (824435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267876)

Burning a CDROM on one and using it on another is enough. Its almost as is nobody remembers floppy discs with file and bootsector viruses. With Stuxnet because it can infect the design files, moving the PLD designs from one computer to another by _any_ means (USB key / SDCARD / DVD etc...) will spread the infection.

Re:Cut the hardlines (1)

T_Tauri (883646) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267948)

Without a connection to the internet it would be harder to get software updates & virus protection updates. Do you think it would be more secure running WinXP SP1 and no internet connection? Fine until someone brings a memory stick or CD with a new set of settings for the centrifuge...

Re:Cut the hardlines (1)

master0ne (655374) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268146)

The problem was not that the targeted machines were connected to the internet, they wern't. If you have RTFA's the targeted machines were supposed to be infected by USB sticks transfered between infected machines and the mission critical systems. Thats why the Stuxnet worm did its best to hide very discreetly on a USB stick, so that it could be transfered from internet connected systems to the mission critical systems without being noticed. Hell, you probably could have picked up on this if you had even RTF summeries from all the posted articles on the Stuxnet worm.

Re:Cut the hardlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34268170)

My dialup is $7/month. Where can I find wireless internet for a similar price?

My bike was 100$ Where can I find a new BMW for a similar price?

Guess which OS it targets? (0, Troll)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267578)

"Stuxnet specifically targets businesses that use Windows operating software and a control system designed by Siemens AG."

Apple's should release a new ad campaign: "Stuxnet virus? There's an app for that."

Re:Guess which OS it targets? (1)

moeluv (1785142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267736)

and if macOS were ever to become popular enough that malware writers decide to target it? Just because something is too obscure to be targeted does not mean it's totally secure. The virus was written for windows because that's what the system runs. If it ran Linux it would have been a Linux virus.

Re:Guess which OS it targets? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267904)

The virus was written for windows because that's what the system runs. If it ran Linux it would have been a Linux virus.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, much of the most important Internet infrastructure runs on Linux and yet it seems remarkably lacking in virus infections.

Re:Guess which OS it targets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34268110)

haha, you are so funny. There is an awful lot of Windows server infrastructure out there too and it also remains remarkably lacking in virus infections. Could it be because neither that Linux infrastructure nor that Windows server infrastructure have idiot users clicking on "oh_bewbs.exe"? Perhaps because server administrators aren't stupid? You do know that modern distributions of Windows, running with user rights are pretty darn safe right out of the box right? It is these folks still running Windows XP as an admin, with autorun still enabled, etc. that are the problem. Even in the client computing space where the user can be assumed to be an idiot a Windows 7 or Windows Vista box with the user not an admin and auto-run turned off is pretty darn safe.

Re:Guess which OS it targets? (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268190)

You've obviously never owned a Linux server on the web. Gosh!! Updates came nearly weekly (and had to be manually installed) and even then my box was completely cracked and used to try to break into Stanford U graphics department one weekend. Ran up an $800 bill for me. Thanks Linux.

While your statement about Linux being used on much of the web is correct, try working for a shared hosting company that has thousands of Linux boxes on them, and they will tell you it is a 24x7 job trying to keep them patched and clean and updated. Nothing out there is plug-n-play-n-forget.

Re:Guess which OS it targets? (1)

moeluv (1785142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268222)

and in other news this virus had an industrial target. It wasn't simply looking to disrupt internet traffic. Once a malware writer decides they want to disrupt internet traffic in general I'm sure we'll see things written to affect those linux machines. Don't get me wrong i prefer linux and run it at home but blaming the target doesn't solve the problem. If you are putting forth the idea that no viruses/malware/exploits exist for linux then you sir are either woefully unaware or a complete idiot.

Re:Guess which OS it targets? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268122)

I wish that I had not replied on this article. I would have modded you down. Obviously you are neither a cracker, a virus writer, or logical.

Ppl target Windows not do to number of systems, but number of openings. If a system had 99% penetration of desktop markets, but had ZERO opening, or even limited openings, then the crackers/virus writers/etc would then target the 1%. Why? BECAUSE IT IS EFFECTIVE.

Hell, just look at 7-11 vs. banks. Once upon a time, banks were the favorite targets. Then along came 7-11. Much smaller amounts, but banks had acquired security, while 7-11 had none. When 7-11 moved to having decent security, then robbers went back to mostly banks. There are more banks robbed from in Colorado than 7-11s. WHy? Because 7-11 has effective security.

Funny how the answer is always more government (2, Insightful)

fotbr (855184) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267580)

Do you really want the idiots in D.C. telling you how your computer must work? Ask anyone doing IT related stuff under the DoD -- their own security policies cause more outages and problems than anything else. Those policies are from people who supposedly know what's what. Now put clueless politicians in charge.

You DON'T want this, no matter how much you like government control of your lives.

Re:Funny how the answer is always more government (2, Interesting)

ewieling (90662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267658)

I do not mind the government telling industry that they must secure their systems. Who else is going to do that? Customers?

Re:Funny how the answer is always more government (3, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267918)

When the last time the government solved the problem that it told you it was trying to solve?

Re:Funny how the answer is always more government (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268238)

That's exactly right. People can all yell and complain about the litigious society we live in, but it is the fact that people can and will sue companies that scares the pants off them and keeps them working toward safer and better. I was involved in a biotech company in the development of a new manufacturing plant over 5 years ago. Their control computers (which I installed) were completely isolated from the rest of the company. No cables coming into the control server room from the rest of the company. They are not only scared of customers but also the FDA. Same with any company. They all want to stay in business. They simply need to know of where problems can come from, and they will make changes to cover their butts.

Even liberals agree, this is dumb. (4, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267680)

A fair number of people have labeled me a socialist, and even I can see that this is nothing more than a blatent attempt at a power grab by the federal government, and profiteering by Symantec.

Dean Turner, director of the Global Intelligence Network at Symantec Corp., told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that the "real-world implications of Stuxnet are beyond any threat we have seen in the past."

So we're having people who stand to gain more power over their country men making a decision about taking that power, receiving testimony about the threat from the company that stands to profit the most by their decision to take the power. Yeah, that's not a recipe for a horrendous outcome.

-Rick

Re:Funny how the answer is always more government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34267744)

If they pay for the computer, it's not "your computer", it's theirs. They have every right to dictate how it works on THEIR network.
 
At my workplace people who made a business case for self-managed systems are some of our biggest 'customers' needing help.

Re:Funny how the answer is always more government (2, Interesting)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267800)

Paranoia and its associated billions and billions spent because of it is how the US will be weakened.

It's been said that one of the (many) reasons the Soviet Union collapsed was because of the spending on military hardware to keep up with the US - their economy just couldn't support it.

The US has no real reason, at least at this time, to spend billions and billions of hardware BUT security is another matter.

We're so paranoid, that we're searching each other to make sure that our neighbors aren't a threat - "They could be!" is the cry from the peanut gallery and politically connected businessmen who want to bleed the American taxpayer to line their own pockets.

Now we have this virus that will attack our NUCLEAR installations. GASP! It's NUCLEAR!!! Everybody panic. We need to do something!!!

Along will come politicians and businessman with a solution. Hundreds of billions of dollars will be spent on "protecting" us from this "threat".

Another threat will come. And another. And another. And hundreds of billions of dollars will be spent on each.

In the meantime, the Fed is "Quantitatively Easing" (*snicker*) our currency. We're running huge deficits.

We're considered to be Imperialistic by most of the World - OK, all of the World except for ourselves. And one of the best ways to take out a superior force is to have them take themselves out.

To quote from "Blade Runner" - "We are stupid."

And then the cylons revolted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34267584)

...

Legislation? (4, Insightful)

TD-Linux (1295697) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267586)

I would think that the risk of prolonged downtime in a factory that plows through millions of dollars a day would be enough of an incentive for any manager to tighten their security.

Re:Legislation? (3, Insightful)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267754)

But you see, that is the fault of some IT guy they can just fire. But a VP would have to submit outrageous expenses for such security, and that would hurt his bonus.

Re:Legislation? (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267782)

No, it isn't. Humans in general and managers in particular are famously bad at correctly estimating the factors of low-probability/high-impact risks. Not always in the same direction - we vastly overestimate the risk of some stuff, and vastly underestimate others. But we're almost always off, and by several orders of magnitude.

And don't forget the human factor - the risk for the manager is not millions of dollars of company assets, that is an abstract figure at best. The risk to him is the loss of his job, which is lower in both value and likelihood than the event itself. However, spending money on security is a 100% loss of profit which will impact the bottom line, profit, quarterly report, etc. with a very high probability of negative impact on his bonus or raise.

Unfortunately, almost everything you learn about management or governance acts as if "the company" would make decisions, and not humans. And ignores that humans have a more personal context that also influences their decisions, and routinely overrides even those cases where the optimal decision can be clearly demonstrated.

Re:Legislation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34268192)

No, it's not. It's only enough of an incentive to find a good CYA and provide the illusion of security. They'll add some buzzword-compatible features and ignore the problem until the next incident. The industrial automation industry is notoriously slow to change, and having worked for one of the major companies in the industry I can safely say technical quality has not been a selling feature of these devices for decades.

Do i get this right? (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267588)

So first the goverment makes the most malicious worm possible to do their bidding in wiping out the enemy, and then the goverment figure they can use this worm as an argument for imposing more restrictions and expanding their power.

Next up: the police starts killing people so they can use the higher homicide rates to motivate expansion.

Re:Do i get this right? (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267626)

My though exactly. Kill two birds with one stone.
But at least the government is becoming more efficient.

Re:Do i get this right? (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267802)

You mean the only way the government can get it right, is when they intend to fuck things up?

Re:Do i get this right? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267732)

I find the US government to be a bit weird.

It tries to impose regulations in places where they probably shouldn't, and leave it as a free-for-all on places where it should.

And before someone mentions "Socialism", you should probably google what that word means.

Re:Do i get this right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34267910)

remind you of anything else?

Osama?

A Ha (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34267600)

"The growing danger, said lawmakers, makes it imperative that Congress move on legislation that would expand government controls and set requirements to make systems safer."

The mystery of the who and the why of stuxnet is now over.

Re:A Ha (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268204)

...imperative that Congress move on legislation that would expand government controls and set requirements to make systems safer.

From the same legislative body that brought you a series of tubes not serviced by dump trucks.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. 10 to 1 they bring in experts from Microsoft to help craft the legislation...

Stupidity is the problem, training the solution. (2, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267612)

As sophisticated as Stuxnet is, it still relies on people doing Very Stupid Things. The solution isn't government intervention to control how everyone designs their networks (They'd be perpetually ten years behind current technology anyway), but to just weather the current panic, learn from it, and remember CHANGE THE DEFAULT PASSWORDS and USE A FIREWALL! The only reason this has been such a problem is that industrial control networks are designed by people with insufficient training in IT security, so often even the most common-sense measures are neglected.

NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34267614)

No, this is not an excuse to allow fear-based reasoning to dictate the legislative process. We have this happen several times over the course of the past decade, and we should not allow the pattern of behavior to continue. It is in the best interest of industry, and the Internet, for an organic, non-legislative solution to come to fruition.

This isn't a 'vulnerability' (2, Insightful)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267616)

Don't exaggerate the issue. The exploitation of PLC's by Stuxnet is akin to a device on your car vehicles CAN bus issueing commands across the network. Does your cars radio require authentication? Newp. How about your speedometer? Newp.

    What StuxNet *does* emphasize is why it's a very, VERY dumb idea to have a network with PLCs connected to an external network of any kind.

    "OMFG, I can't believe my cancer test came up negative because some hax0r compromised it. What kind of suck software was RUNNING on that device?"

    OOOOOOoorrrrrrr..

    "OMFG, you idiots, WTF would you connect a device which is going to tell me if I'm *DYING* to the MTF internet?!?!"

Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34267624)

"they merge networks and computer systems to increase efficiency"

Can someone please redefine efficiency so that it does not mean less secure? It's not a tradeoff when its completely one-sided....

Stuxnet is only a threat to Seimens (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267674)

There are lots of choices. Just avoid using Seimens controllers. Problem solved!

lol the irony (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34267698)

Its probably American dollars that paid for stuxnet in the first place (by way of "Aid" to certain countries)

just deserts come to mind

Nuclear Plant Security (1)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267700)

Obviously, this virus showed that nuclear security is much harder problem then anyone realised before. Nuclear plants are using on unsecure closed-source programs. It is unlikely that anyone competent reviewd sources of these programs. It should be remebered that all arguments on how "new reactors" are now safe, as opose to Chernobil, are invalid, all of a sudden and there is little Nuclear Lobby can do in short term to restore safety argument.

Re:Nuclear Plant Security (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267770)

It should be remebered that all arguments on how "new reactors" are now safe, as opose to Chernobil, are invalid, all of a sudden and there is little Nuclear Lobby can do in short term to restore safety argument.

And why are those arguments invalid? Keep in mind that some reactor designs, such as pebble bed, are sufficiently safe no matter what the computer systems are doing.

Re:Nuclear Plant Security (1)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267856)

Well, if there is mechanical "switch" independant of what any microcontroller says (like: mechanical switch connected to microcontroller in cars. You can "push breaks" in SW, albait it is mechanical part), then I am accepting your argument. For this however, design of nuclear power plants should be open for review.

Re:Nuclear Plant Security (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267960)

Well, if there is mechanical "switch" independant of what any microcontroller says (like: mechanical switch connected to microcontroller in cars. You can "push breaks" in SW, albait it is mechanical part), then I am accepting your argument.

Besides this there are reactor designs that are prevented from exploding or melting down by the laws of physics, regardless of any control system tries to do be it a mechanical switch or a microcontroller.

Hahaha (1)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267722)

Yes, because my Congressman is without a doubt the best qualified to draft intelligent, thoughtful cyber-laws to deal with cyber-threats! :) I now await his first press conference talking about his "Superior Cyber Technology"...

Does this really surprise anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34267740)

Every time I see a Stuxnet story, I read comments from people who work with Siemens AG control systems, and talk about how their supervisors want the machines to be connected to the company network and want the systems to have default passwords, because those supervisors can't be bothered to leave their office or remember any more dag nabbit passwords.

Sounds kinda like Stuxnet is a wakeup call that security-through-obscurity doesn't work, and hasn't worked for 3 decades now.

Who created it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34267772)

Surely, if this is the "Biggest Threat to Industry", at a precarious time in regards to the Economies across the Globe, we should be trying to find out who created and unleashed it... and then punishing them. The creators should be held accountable for what is a form of warfare/attack. I'm not saying that should be the priority... priority would probably be to eliminate/eradicate or protect against it. But an effort should be made to identify the creators, before they can create and unleash something new.

The Interent is not the only WAN (2, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267852)

Seriously, who TF came to the idea that all WANs are to be extinguished and only the Internet can be used for site-to-site networks? Maybe I'm showing my age, but I don't care: when I was working in IT (before returning to academia), private WANs were the norm, and nobody even dreamt of connecting any part of a company network, no matter how unimportant, to the Internet. Somehow, common sense wasn't snuffed entirely. Oh, and we did have e-mail, shockingly enough, which was nicely routed to the Interent (if the e-mail address was an Internet e-mail address).

Didn't our government launch that virus? (2, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267858)

So the US government launches a cyber attack aimed at Iran's nuclear production and now the government wants to protect us from cyberthreats?

Where have I heard that before? Oh, yeah! We woulds hate to see bad tings happen to yas.

Besides taking naked pictures of you at the airport, now the government will be infiltrating your office network to protect you. Boy, I feel so much safer now.

Re:Didn't our government launch that virus? (1)

MCHammer (110588) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268038)

You are dead right on this. I've seen this a million times before. This is companies lobbying congress with fear, uncertainty, and doubt to force controls on the internet. This is nothing but a scare tactic. Companies and government would like nothing more than to take over the chaotic internet so that they can better monetize it and prevent competition from small players... not to mention eliminating anonymity.

US vs. Iran? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34268128)

There are a great many governments that could have sanctioned such a virus, and the US is only one of them. Israel and even Saudi Arabia don't like Iran, at all, and don't want a nuclear Iran. Hell, even China could have done it; even though China and Iran are partners, it's in China's interest for Iran to take things slowly so that the US doesn't get too irked with either Iran or China for supporting them.

Almost any government in the world could have incentive to make this. Or maybe some kid just did it for fun. Who knows.

Windwos Now Biggest Threat To Industry (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267868)

There, corrected for you.

And before you Microsoft Astroturfers obey your master and mod me into oblivion, thats how it is. Windows is the attack vector used when gaining access to the various SCADA systems its after. Even with a Secure SCADA system, as long as its managed on a Windows computer its vulnerable to attacks. Take Windows out of the picture and the threat lowers significantly.

Stop using Windows98 (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267962)

Stop running your robots with a computer running windows 98 (or winxp that auto-logs-in to admin on bootup). Stop putting those same computers on the Internet because Jim the Operator needed to read his email. Buy a dedicated computer for that, and remove/disable the NIC on the controller computer.

Government can make us safe... (1)

AbrasiveCat (999190) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267986)

Well if governments can pass legislation to make us safe, then unless it violates some other law (constitution) they should do it. And while they are at it pass a law to make cars all safe, the air safe, children safe, and all the other stuff safe. I don't think it is so easy and business has an obligation to protect themselves. When you take a research network and later try to legislate rules into to it you are missing the boat. (I am getting tired of "someone" saying congress can fix "it" with a law, take some responsibility. Even if you are BP, a power company, a consumer, a person driving a car, a parent, an airline passenger, a record company, etc.) Sigh

Is this a script? (1)

gambit3 (463693) | more than 3 years ago | (#34267990)

Why does it always follow the outline:

[INSERT REAL OR IMAGINED DANGER HERE], so the only solution is for [INSERT GOV'T BRANCH HERE] to [INSERT DESIRED ACTION HERE].

"The growing danger, said lawmakers, makes it imperative that Congress move on legislation that would expand government controls and set requirements to make systems safer."

GOOD! (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268060)

This is a wake-up call. It is one that has been missing for a long time. Thankfully, it is not damaging to ANYTHING. The ONLY downfall is that if you are running the German designed centrifuges, then it will only mix Uranium with a tolerance that is acceptable for Nuke Plants. Basically, it does not have high enough tolerance for bombs. The problem for Iran is that they obviously have ZERO intentions of doing this work for nuke plants like they claim. It is all for bombs.

Good thing the cylons aren't attacking. (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268108)

The only reason we survived the cylons was by not having our computers networked for "increased efficiency". We are doomed.

Proof of Concept? (1)

rakuen (1230808) | more than 3 years ago | (#34268178)

If foo works on one system, and foo is adaptable, then foo + bar might work on another system.

We can make jokes about the Windows OS and giving vital machines an active presence on the Internet all day long (and it seems we have), but that would be missing the point. What we have here is a virus which has been proven to work, and which like many viruses, can be altered to infect other systems. People who say these organizations should run OSX or Linux, who's to say this virus can't be recoded to work on those systems (yes, I realize time required). People who say steer clear of the Internet, direct contact is always a potential vector for infection.

At the risk of having to put on my tin foil hat, I'd say the whole Iran infection is a proof of concept. The virus works, and it's possible to get into proper positioning to release it. All this talk about government regulation isn't going to change that fact either, if anything, the bureaucracy might cripple response times. It falls on security professionals to figure out how to head this virus off. Identify it, reverse engineer it, kill it, and figure out a way to detect new variations before they can cause too much damage. But if all of us are too busy shooting for +5 Funny/Insightful by bashing Microsoft, well, we're certainly not getting anything done, are we?
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