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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwareintrusionsiemensgeneral electricSchneider ElectricForensicsRockwell AutomationAdvantech

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

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?