Researchers uncover holes that open power stations to hacking

A pair of researchers have uncovered more than two dozen vulnerabilities in products used in critical infrastructure systems that would allow attackers to crash or hijack the servers controlling electric substations and water systems.

The vulnerabilities include some that would allow an attacker to crash or send a master server into an infinite loop, preventing operators from monitoring or controlling operations. Others would allow remote code-injection into a server, providing an opportunity for an attacker to open and close breakers at substations and cause power outages.

“Every substation is controlled by the master, which is controlled by the operator,” says researcher Chris Sistrunk who, along with Adam Crain, found vulnerabilities in the products of more than 20 vendors. “If you have control of the master, you have control of the whole system, and you can turn on and off power at will.”

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