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Honeywell DCS Platform Vulnerabilities Can Facilitate Attacks on Industrial Organizations

Cybersecurity company Armis has identified several vulnerabilities in Honeywell ICS products that could expose industrial organizations to attacks.

CritIX vulnerabilities in Honeywell DCS

Cybersecurity company Armis has identified several vulnerabilities in Honeywell distributed control system (DCS) products that could be exploited in attacks aimed at industrial organizations.

Armis researchers started disclosing their findings to the industrial giant last year. They discovered a total of nine new vulnerabilities, including seven that have been assigned a ‘critical severity’ rating. 

The flaws have all been patched by Honeywell and Armis has now made its findings public. The company has dubbed the vulnerabilities ‘Crit.IX’ and they are officially tracked as CVE-2023-23585, CVE-2023-22435, CVE-2023-24474, CVE-2023-25078, CVE-2023-25178, CVE-2023-24480, CVE-2023-25948, CVE-2023-25770 and CVE-2023-26597.

The Crit.IX vulnerabilities impact several of Honeywell’s Experion DCS platforms and the associated C300 DCS controller. Affected platforms include Experion Process Knowledge System (EPKS), LX and PlantCruise. 

The impacted products are used in a wide range of sectors for orchestrating industrial operations, including agriculture, water, pharmaceutical, and nuclear plants.

Armis’ research focused on the proprietary Control Data Access (CDA) protocol that is used for communications between Experion servers and C300 controllers. 

Researchers discovered the lack of encryption and proper authentication mechanisms, allowing an attacker with network access to impersonate servers and controllers. For instance, an attack could be launched from a compromised IT, OT or IoT device on the same network as the targeted DCS. 

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The Crit.IX vulnerabilities can be exploited for denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, to obtain potentially sensitive information, and for remote code execution on the controller or the server. 

A hacker could manipulate or disrupt controllers and engineering workstations, which can result in production downtime or damage to industrial equipment. Attackers could also exploit the flaws for lateral movement within the targeted organization. 

Exploitation of the Crit.IX security holes, according to specific examples shared by Armis, can lead to the “compromise of pharmaceutical batches and chemical compounds, and the disruption of power distribution to interconnected systems downstream.” 

Armis has released a technical report describing its findings. 

This is not the first time the security firm has found vulnerabilities in ICS products. It previously discovered the ModiPwn flaws in Schneider Electric PLCs, and the Urgent/11 vulnerabilities, which impact the products of several industrial giants. 

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Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a managing 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.

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