Dragos Report: Analysis of ICS flaws disclosed in 2019

Pierluigi Paganini February 21, 2020

More than 400 flaws affecting industrial control systems (ICS) were disclosed in 2019, more than 100 were zero-day vulnerabilities.

According to a report published by Dragos, the experts analyzed 438 ICS vulnerabilities that were reported in 212 security advisories, 26% of advisories is related to zero-day flaws.

The experts determined 116 unique types of flaws, the most common were improper input validation, stack-based buffer overflow, cross-site scripting (XSS), the use of hardcoded credentials, and uncontrolled resource consumption (i.e. DoS) issues.

ICS flaws 2019

The experts revealed that 77% of the assessed vulnerabilities were residing deep within a control system network, the flaws only affect products that belong on engineering workstations, human-machine interface (HMI) systems, operator panels, industrial network equipment, and field devices themselves. The researchers pointed out that their exploitation requires some existing access to a control systems network.

Only 9% of advisories were related to flaws in products associated with border systems (i.e. data historians, OPC servers, cross-domain web applications, and VPN services), their exploitation could potentially allow attackers to move from the IT to the OT networks.

Most of the advisories (roughly 75%) are related to vulnerabilities that could be exploited from the network, while the remaining flaws could be only exploited by attackers with local or physical access to the targeted machine.

The report analyzed the operational impact on industrial control processes for each issue. The threats against industrial processes result in three impact categories, the loss of view, the loss of control, or both.

“50% of advisories could cause both a loss of view and a loss.” reads the report published by Dragos. “5% of advisories could only cause a loss of view (but no loss of control) via exploitation.” “2% of advisories could result in a loss of control (but no loss of view) “

43& of advisories covered flaws that could not cause either loss of view or loss of control.

When dealing with mitigation advice the report states that 26% of advisories had no patch available when the initial advisory was disclosed. 76% of the advisories which had no patch did not offer mitigation advice exposing users to the risk of exploitation.

55% of advisories had a patch, but no alternate mitigation.

Additional details are included in the report published by Dragos.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – ICS, hacking)

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