Security Experts:

Hundreds of ICS Vulnerabilities Disclosed in First Half of 2022

More than 600 industrial control system (ICS) product vulnerabilities were disclosed in the first half of 2022 by the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), according to an analysis conducted by industrial asset and network monitoring company SynSaber.

SynSaber has counted 681 vulnerabilities disclosed by CISA, slightly more than in the first half of 2021. It’s worth noting that CISA does not publish advisories for all publicly disclosed ICS flaws, which means that the actual number of issues disclosed between January and June could be higher.

Approximately 13% of the 681 CVEs don’t have a patch and may never get fixed — these are called “forever day vulnerabilities.”

However, in some cases, even if the vulnerability does have a patch, applying it may not be a straightforward task due to what SynSaber describes as “complicated interoperability and warranty constraints.” Organizations may need to wait for the affected OEM vendor to greenlight patching and they need to determine operational risks before any steps are taken.

More than 22% of the vulnerabilities made public by CISA in H1 2022 have been assigned a “critical” severity rating and 42% have been rated “high severity” based on their CVSS score.

However, as experts have often highlighted, CVSS scores can be misleading in the case of ICS. SynSaber advises organizations to look at certain indicators to determine if a vulnerability is practically exploitable within their environment. For example, if exploitation requires user interaction, local/physical access, or elevated privileges on the targeted system, then it’s less likely to be exploited.

In this particular case, exploitation of 46 vulnerabilities requires both access and user interaction, and 198 require user interaction.

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Just over half of the 681 ICS vulnerabilities require a software patch, while 34% require a firmware update and 12% need a protocol update.

An assessment by SynSaber shows that roughly 40% of vulnerabilities should be addressed immediately, and 8% cannot be easily addressed and likely require compensating controls to prevent exploitation.

“Merely looking at the sheer volume of reported CVEs may cause asset owners to feel overwhelmed, but the figures seem less daunting when we understand what percentage of CVEs are pertinent and actionable, vs. which will remain ‘forever-day vulnerabilities,’ at least for the time being,” SynSaber said in its report.

Related: ICS Vendors Respond to OT:Icefall Vulnerabilities Impacting Critical Infrastructure

Related: ICS Patch Tuesday: Siemens, Schneider Electric Address Nearly 50 Vulnerabilities

Related: Number of ICS Vulnerabilities Continued to Increase in 2020

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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.