Infrastructure Controlled by Industrial Control Systems (ICS) is the backbone of many critical services and industries in the United States. According to the Department of Homeland Security, ICS are used to monitor and control energy production, water distribution systems, chemical plants, manufacturing lines, power grids, nuclear power facilities and other critical applications. With this level of importance placed on these systems for providing essential services to U.S citizens it is important to understand what infrastructure controlled by ICS exists as well as various attack surfaces and vulnerabilities associated with them.
The first piece of key U.S infrastructure controlled by ICS is electricity generation plants which provide electrical currents necessary for operation of many industrial processes across America from businesses to homes alike. The attack surface associated with this type represent a serious risk; exploits such as Stuxnet that have been designed specifically against programmable logic controllers (PLCs) used in certain power generation facilities present potential threats that can cause disruption or destruction if not mitigated correctly or at all. Furthermore, high-level access authentication credential compromises can indicate malicious intentions targeting sensitive data; though they may not be directly related to an Industry Control System exploit they could enable a similar level of damage through gaining privileged access to the network layer controlling an affected system such as a distributed control system(DCS).
The second piece of infrastructure controlled by ICS is transportation systems ranging from local metro rail networks powered using urban DC subway systems up-to regional freight cargo operations utilizing automated train signaling technologies like interlocking switches and signals . Attack surfaces associated with this type can range from evolving physical side channel attacks attempting manipulation via physical components like trackside relays up-to more common cyber security threats such as remote exploits targeting vulnerable embedded devices utilized for communications throughout the railway network . Physical disruptions due malicious actors should also be considered when assessing risks here – recent examples include jamming cellular communication frequencies near train stations or manipulating optical signaling equipment located along tracksides causing havoc for passing traffic .
Identify at least 3 pieces of key U.S. infrastructure controlled by ICS, including the related attack surface and vulnerabilities associated with each selected infrastructure.
Finally there’s oil & gas production plants which rely heavily on automation technologies hosted within specialized operational screens running off connected HMI’s/SCADA management consoles both locally at site or remotely via secure VPN tunnels between multiple sites locations – often trusted third party cloud service providers being one example – making assessments around safety levels difficult due lack standardized approaches across all producers .
This mixture creates several new attack surfaces including increased exposure softer targets like storage tanks , pipelines , pumps etc where traditional firewalls may not exist alongside other methods like direct tampering using wired connections against programs running inside PLC’s allowing for manipulation / bypassing existing security protocols affecting wider operations . Additionally, newer technology trends such IoT sensors & drones allow hostile parties additional entry points easier exploitation requiring extra diligence monitoring any external connection attempted made towards mission-critical assets unless implemented safe practices beforehand resulting authorized actions only taken those authenticated users given appropriate rights levels required completing task requested