Security expert John Smith commented on the news of newly discovered Irongate malware which aims to disrupt core Industrial systems.
John Smith, Principal Solution architect at Veracode:
Industrial control systems are found not just in industry but are also an essential part of the UK’s critical national infrastructure, with the potential to cause significant problems if taken down. As well as protecting their physical safety, it is vital that they are ‘virtually’ safe too. As Chancellor Osborne has recently reminded us, the Internet was not designed with security in mind.
While some are arguing that “irongate” isn’t as severe as the Stuxnet malware is bears similarities too, it is interesting to note that it uses a sophisticated approach to attempt to mask it’s attacks – replaying normal traffic that has been previously captured by a man-in-the-middle technique. This level of stealth combined with the inherent complexity of developing malware for industrial control systems represents a significant investment and it would be highly unusual for an attacker to make that kind of investment without the expectation of an equally significant return.
Plugging the security gaps in archaic legacy systems poses a massive challenge to critical national infrastructure, but businesses and industry must also take heed from such attacks. Attackers will find and exploit vulnerabilities wherever they need to in order to achieve their goals and while exotic attacks such as this might draw attention it is often the case that web applications present the largest and most vulnerable attack surface for an organisation.