Hard-coded key vulnerability in Logix PLCs has severity score of 10 out of 10

Rockwell Automation

{Hardware} that’s extensively used to regulate tools in factories and different industrial settings will be remotely commandeered by exploiting a newly disclosed vulnerability that has a severity rating of 10 out of 10.

The vulnerability is present in programmable logic controllers from Rockwell Automation which can be marketed beneath the Logix model. These gadgets, which vary from the scale of a small toaster to a big bread field and even greater, assist management tools and processes on meeting strains and in different manufacturing environments. Engineers program the PLCs utilizing Rockwell software program referred to as Studio 5000 Logix Designer.

On Thursday, the US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Safety Administration warned of a essential vulnerability that might permit hackers to remotely hook up with Logix controllers and from there alter their configuration or software code. The vulnerability requires a low ability stage to be exploited, CISA said.

The vulnerability, which is tracked as CVE-2021-22681, is the results of the Studio 5000 Logix Designer software program making it potential for hackers to extract a secret encryption key. This secret is hard-coded into each Logix controllers and engineering stations and verifies communication between the 2 gadgets. A hacker who obtained the important thing might then mimic an engineering workstation and manipulate PLC code or configurations that immediately impression a producing course of.

“Any affected Rockwell Logix controller that’s uncovered on the Web is doubtlessly weak and exploitable,” mentioned Sharon Brizinov, principal vulnerability researcher at Claroty, one in every of three organizations Rockwell credited with independently discovering the flaw. “To efficiently exploit this vulnerability, an attacker should first acquire the key key and have the information of the cryptographic algorithm getting used within the authentication course of.”

Brizinov mentioned that Claroty notified Rockwell of the vulnerability in 2019. Rockwell didn’t disclose it till Thursday. Rockwell additionally credited Kaspersky Lab and Soonchunhyang College researchers Eunseon Jeong, Youngho An, Junyoung Park, Insu Oh, and Kangbin Yim.

The vulnerability impacts nearly each Logix PLC Rockwell sells, together with:

  • CompactLogix 1768
  • CompactLogix 1769
  • CompactLogix 5370
  • CompactLogix 5380
  • CompactLogix 5480
  • ControlLogix 5550
  • ControlLogix 5560
  • ControlLogix 5570
  • ControlLogix 5580
  • DriveLogix 5560
  • DriveLogix 5730
  • DriveLogix 1794-L34
  • Compact GuardLogix 5370
  • Compact GuardLogix 5380
  • GuardLogix 5570
  • GuardLogix 5580
  • SoftLogix 5800

Rockwell isn’t issuing a patch that immediately addresses the issues stemming from the hard-coded key. As a substitute, the corporate is recommending that PLC customers observe particular danger mitigation steps. The steps contain placing the controller mode swap into run, and if that’s not potential, following different suggestions which can be particular to every PLC mannequin.

These steps are specified by an advisory Rockwell is making out there to clients, in addition to within the above-linked CISA advisory. Rockwell and CISA additionally suggest PLC customers observe normal security-in-depth safety recommendation. Chief among the many suggestions is guaranteeing that management system gadgets aren’t accessible from the Web.

Safety professionals universally admonish engineers to position essential industrial programs behind a firewall so they don’t seem to be uncovered to the Web. Sadly, engineers fighting excessive workloads and restricted budgets usually do not heed the recommendation. The newest reminder of this got here earlier this month when a municipal water therapy plant in Florida mentioned that an intruder accessed a distant system and tried to lace drinking water with lye. Plant staff used the same TeamViewer password and did not put the system behind a firewall.

If Logix PLC customers are segmenting industrial management networks and following different greatest practices, it’s possible that the chance posed by CVE-2021-22681 is minimal. And if individuals haven’t carried out these practices, hackers most likely have simpler methods to hijack the gadgets. That mentioned, this vulnerability is severe sufficient that every one Logix PLC customers ought to take note of the CISA and Rockwell advisories.

Claroty has issued its personal writeup here.

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