Security Experts:

ICS-CERT Warns of Ongoing Attack Campaign Targeting Industrial Control Systems

ICS-CERT (Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team) has issued a warning about an ongoing attack campaign targeting industrial control systems.

According to ICS-CERT, the campaign has compromised numerous industrial control systems environments and has been ongoing since at least 2011. The campaign is using a variant of the BlackEnergy malware. BlackEnergy has been linked to a number of attacks, including the recently disclosed activities of the Sandworm Team.

"ICS-CERT has determined that users of HMI products from various vendors have been targeted in this campaign, including GE Cimplicity, Advantech/Broadwin WebAccess, and Siemens WinCC," according to the advisory. "It is currently unknown whether other vendor’s products have also been targeted."

Industrial Control Systems"ICS‑CERT is working with the involved vendors to evaluate this activity and also notify their users of the linkages to this campaign," the advisory states.

So far, the ICS-CERT team has not identified any attempts to damage victims' control processes, and been unable to verify if the intruders have expanded access beyond the compromised human-machine interface (HMI) into the remainder of the underlying control system. Still, ICS-CERT notes that the malware deployments have typically included modules that seek out any network-connected file shares and removable media in hopes of facilitating additional lateral movement within the environment.

Not all of the malware's functionality is deployed to all victims, the team notes.

"The attacks described in the advisory are of an extremely worrisome kind," said Francis Cianfrocca, CEO of Bayshore Networks, in an email. "It's commonplace for industrial control-system software to be deployed on Windows machines (servers and workstations), and this won't change soon because these software products are very slow to evolve. Typically, workstations that run control software are dual-homed (one leg in the machine network and one on the IT side), but without very careful controls, even this defense model is easily defeated by advanced malware."

The initial infection vector for systems running GE's Cimplicity HMI with a direct connection to the Internet appears to be CVE-2014-0751. The ICS-CERT team noted that the attackers behind the campaign share the same command and control infrastructure as the Sandworm team.

Ken Westin, security analyst for Tripwire, said part of the problem is the number of ICS devices accessible over the Internet.

"Anyone can run scans and identify numerous ICS systems that are accessible via the Internet," he said. "Multiple vendors have been targeted with this malware including GE Cimplicity, Advantech Broadwin WebAccess and possibly Siemens WinCC. Although the compromised systems have not caused damage at this point, this attack could potentially be gathering information about vulnerabilities for use in a larger scale or more sophisticated attack."

The ICS-CERT team has analyzed two different .cim files used in this campaign: devlist.cim and config.bak. Both files use scripts that ultimately install the BlackEnergy malware.

To address the situation, ICS-CERT has produced a YARA signature to help identify if the malware files are present on a given system. YARA is a pattern-matching tool used by security researchers and companies to identify malware. ICS-CERT asks organizations report any positive or suspected findings to the team for further analysis and correlation.

The YARA signature is available at: /sites/default/files/file_attach/ICS-ALERT-14-281-01.yara.

*This story was updated with additional information.

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