Whitelisting project helps industrial control systems owners find suspicious files

A new service called WhiteScope contains over 300,000 known good SCADA/ICS files

Industrial control systems have been at the center of some scary security stories recently, but investigating malware infections in such environments is not easy because analysts often having a hard time telling suspicious and good files apart.

Security researchers have identified two malware campaigns this year that targeted SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems -- Havex and BlackEnergy. Such attacks are expected to grow in number, as new reports show that state-sponsored hackers are increasingly interested in critical infrastructure companies.

Now, a newly launched service called WhiteScope provides industrial control system owners and investigators with a list of good files from SCADA products and related software. The "whitelist" can be used to pin down potentially suspicious files when investigating possible compromises.

"While participating in a few incident response engagements, I realized it's fairly difficult to know what is a 'legitimate' ICS/SCADA file and what is not," Billy Rios, the security researcher who created the new service, said on the WhiteScope site. "Given the overwhelming majority of ICS/SCADA vendors refuse to sign their software, we're stuck with determining whether files like 'FTShell.dll' or 'WFCU.exe' (both legitimate files by the way) are really supposed to be there."

Rios, who has worked for Microsoft and Google in the past, but is also known for his independent SCADA security research, has collected "known good" file artifacts like file hashes, registry changes, processes, and loaded modules for ICS/SCADA software from installation media, as well as live running systems.

The WhiteScope database that he created currently contains 346,458 files that correspond to over 80 SCADA and ICS product versions from a large number of vendors including General Electric, Schneider Electric, Rockwell Automation, Siemens and Advantech.

For now the service allows users to submit a file or a file hash through a Web form on www.icswhitelist.com to check it against those in the database. However, Rios is working on an application programming interface (API) that will allow users to submit and check multiple files and hashes at once.

"A 'hit' in the database indicates that the hash/file you've submitted was previously seen within an ICS/SCADA installation," Rios said. "A 'miss' simply indicates that WhiteScope hasn't previously seen that file before. I would first check to see if the file is signed. If the file is not signed (likely the case for ICS/SCADA), check the 'supported products' page and see if the product you are looking at is in our product list. If the product is not in the list, please consider working with us to get a good set of hashes for that product. If the product is in the product list and the file doesn't match anything we have, I would start an investigation on that file."

The researcher is also working on creating a firmware database, as well as a similar whitelist for medical device software, which is also typically not signed and can't easily be verified.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags siemensintrusionAdvantechsecuritygeneral electricForensicsRockwell AutomationmalwareSchneider Electric

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?