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Operating Systems Security IT

Kaspersky To Build Secure OS For SCADA Systems 165

Trailrunner7 writes "Attacks against SCADA and industrial-control systems have become a major concern for private companies as well as government agencies, with executives and officials worried about the potential effects of a major compromise. Security experts in some circles have been warning about the possible ramifications of such an attack for some time now, and researchers have found scores of vulnerabilities in SCADA and ICS systems in the last couple of years. Now, engineers at Kaspersky Lab have begun work on new operating system designed to be a secure-by-design environment for the operation of SCADA and ICS systems. 'Well, re-designing ICS applications is not really an option. Again, too long, too pricey and no guarantees it will fit the process without any surprises. At the same time, the crux of the problem can be solved in a different way. OK, here is a vulnerable ICS but it does its job pretty well in controlling the process. We can leave the ICS as is but instead run it in a special environment developed with security in mind! Yes, I'm talking about a highly-tailored secure operating system dedicated to critical infrastructure,' Eugene Kaspersky said in an interview."
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Kaspersky To Build Secure OS For SCADA Systems

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  • I like the idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kasperd ( 592156 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @02:32PM (#41672117) Homepage Journal
    I do like the idea of an operating system designed with such security in mind. The operating system is probably also going to require some sort of real time guarantees, but otherwise no requirements for ultra high performance.

    As far as security goes, I think one important aspect is transparency. Code running on the operating system should probably not have much freedom to modify the underlying system, but it is crucial that they can see what is going on, such that you can monitor that nothing unexpected is running on the system.

    I guess for most SCADA systems the risk of bad stuff happening due to unauthorized changes is a much greater concern than leaking information from the system.

    Are Kaspersky the right people to build the OS? Time will show.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @02:38PM (#41672203)

    All of the SCADA systems I have installed are wireless. A potential hacker doesn't need physical access, they just need to be in range.

    True story: The largest wireless SCADA system I did was for an oilfield company. I originally set up passwords made of random letters and numbers, making them as secure as possible. But less than a week after the system was up and running, they complained the passwords were too difficult to remember. So I was forced to change them all to something similar to President Skroob's luggage combination or not get paid.

    (The SCADA radios ran Linux, in case you're interested...)

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @02:55PM (#41672431) Journal

    For one I can install a network sniffer on it to gain passwords. Then upload my own program to interact with the SCADA and destroy your equipment. With slashdot's earlier story of Iran planning a 9-11 like attack on American Infrastructure this is a very real concern.

    Even Linux has security holes. They are not exploited on the net like Flash or Java ones but a rogue government or terrorists can use them to gain access.

  • Re:Good Luck (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @03:06PM (#41672563)

    That is exactly the same problem general desktop computing has. The OS is secure, the hardware is secure, it is the poorly engineered browser addons (and sometimes browsers) which bring the system to its knees from a security persepective.

    Yes, this embedded OS is secure, but what gives me the ability to trust it? Old Cold War tensions aside, if someone hands me a lock and says, "trust me, its secure", that doesn't give me much assurance. Having source code available for peer review (even if it is commercial like PGP's source) would go a long way in assuring.

    Otherwise, I don't see that much improvement between what it offers, and Linux's AppArmor/SELinux. I do like the fact that writes can be redirected elsewhere which isn't a part of any UNIX OS, but if need be, that functionality could be sort of cobbled together by making a snapshot and having a clone be a new filesystem.

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