Security Experts:

Eaton Patches TCP/IP Stack Flaw Affecting Controls, Relays

Power management solutions provider Eaton has released software updates to address a vulnerability affecting the Cooper Power Series Form 6 recloser control and Idea/IdeaPLUS relay protection platforms.

Power grid operators from across the world use the Form 6 control and Idea/IdeaPLUS relay protection platforms to apply protection and communications support for overcurrent devices such circuit breakers and reclosers.

According to advisories published by ICS-CERT and Eaton, the products are plagued by a remotely exploitable TCP/IP stack vulnerability (CVE-2014-9196) that could allow an attacker to launch man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks against products that are accessible via the Internet.

The security hole, identified by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, affects all versions of Eaton’s Cooper Power series Form 6 control and Idea/IdeaPLUS relays with Ethernet using ProView 4.0 - 5.0 software.

“As devices receive new connection requests, there is a predictable linear pattern of the initial sequence numbers. An attacker could potentially use this TCP/IP stack vulnerability to predict new device connection requests, possibly enabling a MitM attack,” ICS-CERT explained. “A successful MitM attack could allow the attacker to cause a crash of the system or to execute arbitrary code.”

Eaton’s Cooper Power Systems division has addressed the vulnerability with the release of ProView 5.0 revision 11. The version for Form 6 controls was made available on June 12, and the software versions for Idea/IdeaPLUS relays were released on June 30. Researchers have confirmed that the updates patch the flaw.

Eaton has admitted that a security issue exists, but the company has assigned it a “low” severity rating. The vendor has pointed out that many of the products are not actively connected to a communications network, and those that are communicating are usually connected to private systems.

The risks associated with this vulnerability are greatly minimized if organizations ensure that controls are not accessible from external networks, and network access points are physically secured, Eaton said.

“Although an issue exists, it must be noted that no authentication mechanism is used for new socket connections to SCADA protocol (e.g. DNP3) listening ports on the Form 6 control and Idea/IdeaPLUS relays,” Eaton noted “The effects of exploiting this vulnerability are the same as the effects of an attacker connecting directly to the control or network and listening for or initiating a new session, without exploiting any vulnerabilities. Thus, the importance of deploying network segmentation and isolation on the control system network is further underscored.”

Related: Learn More at the ICS Cyber Security Conference

Related: Cyber Attack on Power Grid Could Top $1 Trillion in Damage

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.