Siemens Issues Security Updates for SIMATIC HMI Devices and Software

In late August a set of security updates was made available by Siemens for its SIMATIC HMI devices, SIMATIC WinCC Runtime Advanced software, SIMATIC WinCC v7 software and SIMATIC NET PC-Software V12 and V13.

The HMI (Human Machine Interface) devices allow a user to easily interface with industrial control and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems via widescreen displays and multi-touch devices. The SIMATIC WinCC Runtime Advanced and Professional software provide this capability. The SIMATIC NET PC-Software is required for communication between a controller (SIMATIC S7 controller) and PC-based solutions (e.g., SIMATIC WinCC).

These updates address 3 remotely exploitable CVEs (defined) which include resource exhaustion (defined), a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack (defined) and password-hashing (defined) implementation flaws.

The resource exhaustion vulnerability could be exploited by an attacker if they were located on the network connection between an HMI panel and a PLC (i.e. a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack) and they could send network packets to the HMI over TCP port 102. Such specifically crafted packets would result in a denial of service (defined) issue for these devices.

The separate man in the middle category of attack mentioned above involves a similar means of attack but this time the attacker is located between the PLCs and their communication partners allowing the attacker to both intercept the packets between these devices and to modify them.

Finally the password hashing vulnerability involves the attacker using the password hashes obtained through another means to grant themselves the same usage rights as the rightful users of those passwords to access SIMATIC WinCC and SIMATIC PCS 7 software.

Why Should These Issues Be Considered Important?
Using these vulnerabilities remote attackers could cause denial of service issues to the above mentioned Siemens devices and/or obtaining the permissions of legitimate users of the SIMATIC WinCC and SIMATIC PCS 7 software used to monitor and control these devices. With the large industrial systems these devices control/operate these flaws can have serious physical consequences (see the notable example mentioned below).

How Can I Protect Myself From These Issues?
Please follow the instructions within this ICS CERT security advisory (specifically the Mitigation section) to update any affected industrial Siemens products that you may be using.

One interesting aspect about these flaws is that the above mentioned Siemens HMI devices are in use by the well-known Large Hadron Collider located underground near Geneva, Switzerland and operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). This underlines the important functions that these devices control whether it be the Hadron Collider or your nearest power station.

Thank you.

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