Industrial cybersecurity firm Otorio has released an open source tool designed to help organizations detect and address issues related to an upcoming update from Microsoft.
Otorio’s DCOM Hardening Toolkit, which is available for free on GitHub, is a PowerShell script that lists weak DCOM authentication applications installed on the tested workstation and provides functionality to address associated security issues.
The tool is useful for organizations that use the OPC Data Access (DA) protocol for communications between PLCs and software within OT networks. OPC DA relies on Microsoft’s Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) technology, which can introduce serious vulnerabilities.
The newer OPC Unified Architecture (UA) protocol does not rely on DCOM so it’s not affected by the same security issues, but many industrial organizations still rely on OPC DA.
The problems that the Otorio tool aims to address are related to some changes that Microsoft has been making.
In 2021, Microsoft informed customers about CVE-2021-26414, a Windows server security feature bypass flaw. Addressing CVE-2021-26414 requires hardening DCOM, which could cause problems for some organizations using it and that is why Microsoft is gradually implementing changes. The goal is to give users enough time to check and resolve any compatibility issues.
The first updates were released by Microsoft in June 2021, with the DCOM hardening disabled by default. The second updates, released in June 2022, enabled the hardening by default, but allowed users to disable the changes manually.
The last updates, scheduled for March 2023, will keep the hardening enabled and users will not be able to disable it.
Otorio’s DCOM Hardening Toolkit can be used to learn whether an OT network includes unsecured DCOM that will become inoperable after the new update is rolled out in March, and it also provides remediation instructions.
“If a company applies the March patch and loses critical visibility and communication between nodes in its network, it could experience significant financial losses. Our goal is to prevent that kind of catastrophe,” said Yair Attar, CTO and co-founder of Otorio.
Otorio has also implemented the open source tool’s capabilities in its RAM² cybersecurity and digital risk management platform for OT.