MITRE released an ATT&CK™ knowledge base of the tactics and techniques that cyber adversaries use when attacking the industrial control systems (ICS) that operate some of the nation’s most critical infrastructures including energy transmission and distribution plants, oil refineries, wastewater treatment facilities, transportation systems, and more. The impacts from these attacks range from disruption to operational productivity to serious harm to human life and the surrounding environment.
ATT&CK for ICS adds the behavior adversaries use within ICS environments. It highlights the unique aspects of the specialized applications and protocols that ICS system operators typically use, and adversaries take advantage of, to interface with physical equipment.
MITRE is not-for-profit company that operates dedicated to solving problems for a safer world. More than 100 participants from 39 organizations reviewed, provided comments, or contributed to ATT&CK for ICS prior to launch. These organizations consisted of a wide range of private and public entities including cyber intelligence and security companies that focus on ICS, industrial product manufacturers, national labs, research institutes, universities, Information Sharing and Analysis Centers, and government agencies supporting public and private critical infrastructure.
The knowledge base can play several key roles for defenders, including helping establish a standard language for security practitioners to use as they report incidents. With expertise in this domain in short supply, it can also help with the development of incident response playbooks, prioritizing defenses as well as finding gaps, reporting threat intelligence, analyst training and development, and emulating adversaries during exercises
Recent threats to ICS systems include cyber-attacks on the Ukrainian grid that shut down power over short periods in 2015 and 2016. The “NotPetya” campaign in 2017 caused an estimated $10 billion in damage to Ukrainian energy firms as well as airports, banks, other major companies, and government agencies.
Other examples include a former employee of a firm that installed radio-controlled sewage equipment in Australia who used a laptop and radio transmitter to cause pumping station failures that spilled more than 200,000 gallons of raw sewage into parks, waterways, and the grounds of a resort, killing marine life, damaging the waters, and creating a terrible stench.
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