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What would a cyber attack mean to control system recovery

 

Quelle: www.controlglobal.com

The prevailing view of SCADA/control system recovery following a cyber event/attack is having a valid stored image of the HMI will assure system integrity and result in a fairly quick turnaround (at most a few days). However, that notion needs to face reality which is entirely different. At a recent DHS briefing, DHS stated it could take 6 months to fully recover from a cyber attack assuming no major equipment damage. Damage to major equipment with long-lead delivery times could be 9-18 months just for replacing equipment. It is now more than 4 months after the Ukrainian cyber attack and the grid is still being operated in manual even though there was no major equipment damage.  A cyberattack that disabled a US SCADA system took approximately 4 months for the utility to recover where there was no equipment damage. During that period, they were forced into manual operation with substations having to be manned. An equipment manufacturer took 3 months just to “clean the system” following a virus affecting their manufacturing systems even though there was no equipment damage.

Control systems are systems of systems, not just Windows-based HMIs. The control system loop consists of data acquisition, field controllers, field sensors, field actuators, etc. not to mention all of the switches, routers, and firewalls. The field sensors, actuators, etc are generally not Windows-based. Many control system components are custom-built and cannot be replaced with off-the-shelf components which could extend outages or manual operation even longer.

The US electric utilities and nuclear plants have no requirement to remove malware. DHS has acknowledged that BlackEnergy malware is in the US electric grids and possibly other critical infrastructures. Consequently, how will system integrity be assured that would allow manual operation following identification of malware?  Manual operation may be the only prudent approach until system integrity can be assured. However, that may not be as simple as it sounds. As Ray Parks who worked for Sandia National Laboratory for many years noted in an April 29, 2016 SACASEC posting: “Every one of the power generation and refineries I’ve visited for assessment has claimed to have a backup plan using manual methods in case the I&C system goes down.  In reality, when you ask a few penetrating questions like “Who will be at each of these locations in the plant?” or “When did you last test the manual backup plan?” the truth comes out – their backup plan is a sham. This architecture adds an additional layer – the primary is the cloud solution, the secondary is the local control system solution, and the tertiary is the manual solution. When did they last test their local control system solution for backup?  Who knows how to operate the local control system?” My experience mirrors Ray’s comments.

With the “graying” workforce retiring, and the Internet of Things (IOT) becoming more prevalent, extended manual operation becomes even more problematic. Making this even more of an issue is the move to more automation making it less likely that facilities can be operated in manual mode. The also affects the move toward more big data analytics because it is unclear if the data can be trusted following a cyber attack.

Are the US critical infrastructures ready to operate in manual mode for an extended period of time? There may be no other choice.

Kommentar

Eine sehr erschütternde Betrachtung, die leider auch die eigenen Wahrnehmung bestätigt und die sich nicht nur auf Cyber-Angriffe beschränkt. Daher einmal mehr die Einschätzung, dass es überhaupt nicht abschätzbar ist, wie lange wir an den Folgen eines Blackouts zu kämpfen haben werden. Hier müssen sehr viele Systeme neu hochgefahren werden – wenn sie nicht beim Herunterfahren sowieso beschädigt wurden (besonderes Problem bei den Kondensatoren von Netzteilen) – und dann müssen diese auch wieder Synchronisiert werden.

Daher bringen mich regelmäßig Aussagen von Politikern und sonstigen Verantwortungsträgern wie:

“Zum gegenständlichen Thema „Blackout und die Folgen“ möchte ich Ihnen mitteilen, dass in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Innenministerium, Rettungsorganisationen, Vertretern der Bezirksverwaltungsbehörden und dem österr. Zivilschutzverband unsere Gemeinden in Form von Informationsveranstaltungen beraten werden.”

“Die Katastrophenschutzbehörde sieht sich nicht als die Stelle, die auf der Gemeindeebene aktiv sein kann und die den Gemeinden auch nicht vorschreiben kann, was diese in Sachen Blackout für Vorkehrungen zu treffen hat. Es gab auch keine Hinweise, wie und ob die Katastrophenschutzbehörde das Thema bei den Gemeinden sensibilisiert.”

“Die Unternehmen im xxx decken diese Szenarien in der Regel über deren Risikomanagement ab (auch via Audits bzw. ISO). Aus diesem Grund sehen wir diesbzgl. aktuell keinen Ansatzpunkt.”

auf die Palme.

Siehe auch unter First known hacker-caused power outage signals troubling escalation

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