Identifying control system cyber incidents requires expertise not readily available and government reporting changes

Identifying control system incidents as being cyber-related is difficult. It is complicated when government and industry organizations rush to judgment by stating that incidents weren’t cyberattacks without knowing the actual cause or setting reporting thresholds that exclude many actual control system cyber incidents. Consequently, it is difficult to identify trends when so many real cases […]

Training for identifying control system incidents as being cyber-related

Each time I provide numbers of control system cyber incidents, I get feedback from OT cyber security experts and others “demanding” detailed information. The most recent case was my comment that there have been more than 150 control system cyber incidents in water/wastewater. Because of the lack of industry being able to identify control system […]

The 2024 RSA Cyber Security Conference – what wasn’t addressed can hurt you

Critical infrastructure cyber security took a prominent position at the RSA Cyber Security Conference with the issuance of NSM22. NSM22 states: “It is diverse and complex, and includes distributed networks, varied organizational structures, operating models, interdependent systems, and governance constructs.” There was no mention of hardware. Yet the critical infrastructure is dependent on hardware – […]

Could the Dali container ship incident have been a control system cyberattack – YES!

The impacts of control system incidents are obvious, but their causes are usually less clear, especially when they might be cyber-related. However, control system cyber incidents have impacted the behavior and operation of ships as well as other critical infrastructures. GPS hacks have altered ships’ positions and displays. Some Chinese critical infrastructure such as port […]

Water Utility Cybersecurity, EPA & CISA, and You

Before I begin, allow me to cite what we’re talking about: https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2024-03/epa-apnsa-letter-to-governors_03182024.pdf The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), under direction from the Biden Administration, are pushing FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) to encourage cybersecurity with most water utilities. Yes, water utilities do need to improve their cybersecurity stance. However, […]

Exploiting remote access – the ultimate living off the land attack

Remote access to control systems is necessary for equipment reliability and availability. Securing remote access is a very tough problem because it is a double-edged sword providing needed reliability improvement and a potential vehicle for Living-off-the-Land attacks. Cyber security technologies exist to secure remote access from external intruders. However, cyber security programs are not adequately […]

Learn to Say No

When I first joined the water utility I discovered that my division chief, we’ll call him Ed, constantly projected himself as a crusty authoritarian figure. Every time someone would approach him with some “new idea,” perhaps even something he’d like to do, his first answer was almost always a resounding “No.” And unless they were […]

The US electric industry is not responding to cyber-vulnerable Chinese equipment

The electric grid is interconnected. The interconnectivity goes not only between utilities but also between facilities connected to the grid. The Chinese (and other threat actors) are exploiting this cyber security gap. Chinese transformers, cranes, inverters, process sensors, etc. are comparably well-made and inexpensive leading to their continued use in US critical infrastructures. Many of […]

False process sensor data can be catastrophic, but are not adequately addressed

The impetus for this blog was twofold: first, a Concordia University study dated January 24, 2024, which concluded that tampering with the electric system sensors could cause grid fluctuations, and second, my meeting with the engineer who scientifically documented that the radiation monitoring system outside the Chernobyl nuclear plant was compromised with false data. The […]