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Flaws in Rockwell Automation Product Expose Engineering Workstations to Attacks

Vulnerabilities discovered by researchers in Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk Linx product can allow attackers to compromise engineering workstations in industrial environments.

FactoryTalk Linx, formerly known as RSLinx Enterprise, is a widely used product designed for connecting Allen Bradley programmable logic controllers (PLCs) to Rockwell applications, including for programming, data acquisition and HMI interaction.

Rockwell Automation and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) last week published advisories to inform organizations using this product that researchers have identified three potentially serious vulnerabilities. Rockwell has released updates that should patch the flaws.FactoryTalk vulnerabilities

One of the vulnerabilities has been rated critical and described as a heap overflow bug that can allow a remote and unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary code by sending malicious port ranges.

Another vulnerability, rated high severity, affects the Ingress/Egress checks routine of FactoryTalk Linx, and it can be exploited by a remote, unauthenticated attacker for denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.

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The third security hole has been classified as medium severity and it can allow an unauthenticated attacker to obtain information that can be useful for bypassing the Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) memory protection feature.

The vulnerabilities were discovered by researchers at industrial cybersecurity firm Claroty. The company told SecurityWeek that the issues were reported to the vendor in April and they are related to a new CIP security feature of the FactoryTalk Linx solution.

“In order to exploit these vulnerabilities, attackers would need to have network access to the Engineering Workstation (EWS) machines. In many cases these machines are laptops, which means they are moving between networks and that makes them a good target for attackers,” Sharon Brizinov, research team lead at Claroty, said via email.

“In our research we were able to show how these three vulnerabilities could be linked together in order to achieve remote code execution while bypassing modern binary security mechanisms such as ASLR,” Brizinov explained. “By exploiting these vulnerabilities, attackers can completely take over the EWS where FactoryTalk Linx is installed. This is highly dangerous because attackers could affect and compromise the PLC program logic that is stored on the EWS before being transferred to the PLC.”

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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.