Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Are Devices Using IEC 61850 Vulnerable?

Devices that implement IEC 61850 may be vulnerable - depending on the measures (not) implemented to protect your SYSTEM! There are many layers of security that can be build into the system to make is less vulnerable. IEC 61850 needs special security measures to hide the semantics of the information being exchanged in a system.

IEC 61850 has well defined models for controlling switch gears: Logical Node CSWI.Pos for operating any kind of switchgears liek circuit breaker, dis-connector or earthing switches. If a client (SCADA, RTU, Proxy, ...) has "open" access to an IED, it could use the self-description and figure out which CSWI instances are available ... and could try to use MMS Write to open or close a switch gear. In a bad system design, this may work.

A high level of security would not (easily) allow other clients (except those that are designed to operate) to operate a switch gear.

Security measures have to be implemented to prevent misuse of the self-description. Even without the self-description, it may be possible that somebody gets access to the SCL file of the system to "read" the models from an XML file. As a consequence: XML files need to be secured as well ...!

You will find solutions for many of the known security problems in the standard series IEC 62351!

The definitions have to be implemented - the paper standards do not protect your systems!

A very new, comprehensive and up-to-date report on security has been published the other day:


Click HERE for the report [pdf, 20 pages].

By the way, the report mentions IEC 60870-5-101/104, IEC 61850 and OPC UA.
Worth to read.

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