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The Global State of Security in Industrial Control Systems: An Empirical Analysis of Vulnerabilities around the World

Simon Duque Antón; Daniel Fraunholz; Daniel Krohmer; Daniel Reti; Daniel Schneider; Hans Dieter Schotten
In: IEEE Internet of Things Journal (IoT), Vol. Early Access, Pages 1-1, IEEE, 2021.


Operational Technology (OT)-networks and -devices, i.e. all components used in industrial environments, were not designed with security in mind. efficiency and ease of use were the most important design characteristics. However, due to the digitisation of industry, an increasing number of devices and industrial networks is opened up to public networks. This is beneficial for administration and organisation of the industrial environments. However, it also increases the attack surface, providing possible points of entry for an attacker. Originally, breaking into production networks meant to break an Information Technology (IT)-perimeter first, such as a public website, and then to move laterally to Industrial Control Systems (ICSs) to influence the production environment. However, many OT-devices are connected directly to the Internet, which drastically increases the threat of compromise, especially since OT-devices contain several vulnerabilities. In this work, the presence of OT-devices in the Internet is analysed from an attacker’s perspective. Publicly available tools, such as the search engine Shodan and vulnerability databases, are employed to find commonly used OT-devices and map vulnerabilities to them. These findings are grouped according to country of origin, manufacturer, and number as well as severity of vulnerability. More than 13000 devices were found, almost all contained at least one vulnerability. European and Northern American countries are by far the most affected ones.


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