A security researcher who voluntarily canceled a talk about critical holes in Siemens' industrial control systems has criticized the German company for downplaying the severity of his findings.
“The vulnerabilities are far reaching and affect every industrialized nation across the globe,” Dillon Beresford wrote in an email posted to a public security list. “This is a very serious issue. As an independent security researcher and professional security analyst, my obligation is not to Siemens but to their consumers.”
Beresford took issue with comments that an article published by IDG News attributed to Siemens representatives, including the claim that the bugs “were discovered while working under special laboratory conditions with unlimited access to protocols and controllers.”
Siemens also suggested that the vulnerabilities “might be difficult for the typical hacker to exploit.”
In his email, Beresford disputed those claims.
“There were no 'special laboratory conditions' with 'unlimited access to the protocols,'” he wrote. “My personal apartment on the wrong side of town where I can hear gunshots at night hardly defines a special laboratory. He said he acquired the Siemens PLC, or programmable logic controller, with no trouble, using money supplied by his employer, NSS Labs.
So-called supervisory control and data acquisition systems control industrial equipment at oil refineries, manufacturing plants and waste treatment facilities. The security of SCADA became a major focus after the discovery of Stuxnet, a worm that some security experts was designed to sabotage Iran's nuclear program.
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