Siemens: German customer hit by industrial worm

Exploited unpatched vulnerability in Windows

Siemens confirmed Tuesday that one of its customers has been hit by a new worm designed to steal secrets from industrial control systems.

To date, the company has been notified of one attack, on a German manufacturer that Siemens declined to identify. "We were informed by one of our system integrators, who developed a project for a customer in process industries," said Siemens Industry spokesman Wieland Simon in an e-mail message. The company is trying to determine whether the attack caused damage, he said.

The worm, called Stuxnet, was first spotted last month, when it infected systems at an unidentified Iranian organization, according to Sergey Ulasen, the head of the antivirus kernel department at VirusBlokAda, in Minsk, Belarus. The unidentified victim, which does not own the type of SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems targeted by the worm, "told us their workstations serially rebooted without any reason," Ulasen said in an e-mail message Tuesday.

VirusBlokAda soon received reports of the malware from "all over the middle east," he added. Last week, Microsoft said that it had logged infection attempts in the U.S., Indonesia, India and Iran. Security vendor Symantec is now logging about 9,000 infection attempts per day.

After gaining access to the Iranian system, VirusBlokAda researchers were able to analyze the worm and determine that it exploited a new and unpatched vulnerability in Microsoft's Windows operating system, allowing it to spread via USB devices and networked file systems.

The highly sophisticated worm also takes advantage of default passwords used by Siemens' management consoles to connect and then try to steal industrial secrets from infected companies. If it worked, the worm could steal manufacturing "recipes" from victims, allowing criminals to counterfeit products.

Security experts have warned that this type of computer-based industrial espionage is becoming a major ongoing business threat. Earlier this year both Intel and Google acknowledged that they were targeted in spying attacks, but this is the first publicly reported worm to target SCADA systems.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Industrial Control Systems Emergency Response team posted an advisory (PDF), confirming that Siemens' Simatic WinCC and Step 7 products are affected by the worm.

A few hours later, Siemens published customer guidance for dealing with the worm problem on its website. "Together with Microsoft, Siemens is working on a remedy at operating system level," the note states.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Siemens IndustrysecurityManufacturingVirusBlokAdaindustry verticalsenergy

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

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.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?