Security Experts:

Serious Flaw Exposes Siemens Industrial Switches to Attacks

Siemens has started releasing patches to address a high severity access control vulnerability that can be exploited to remotely hack some of its industrial communications devices.

The flaw, discovered by Siemens itself and tracked as CVE-2017-12736, affects SCALANCE X industrial ethernet switches, and Ruggedcom switches and serial-to-ethernet devices running the Rugged Operating System (ROS).

The issue is related to the Ruggedcom Discovery Protocol (RCDP), which allows the Ruggedcom Explorer management tool to discover and configure ROS-based devices regardless of their IP network configuration.Siemens Ruggedcom switch

The problem, according to Siemens, is that the protocol is not configured properly after a device is commissioned, allowing an unauthenticated attacker who has access to the network to remotely perform administrative actions.

“After initial configuration, the RCDP is still able to write to the device under certain conditions, potentially allowing users located in the adjacent network of the targeted device to perform unauthorized administrative actions,” Siemens said in its advisory.

Related: Learn More at SecurityWeek’s 2017 ICS Cyber Security Conference

The issue has so far been addressed in Ruggedcom RSL910 devices with the release of ROS 5.0.1 and in other ROS-based products with version 4.3.4. An update has also been rolled out for Ruggedcom Explorer.

In the case of SCALANCE XB-200, XC-200, XP-200, XR300-WG, XR-500 and XM-400 switches, patches have not been made available, but users can mitigate possible attacks by manually disabling RCDP.

Ruggedcom switches are typically used to connect devices in harsh environments, such as traffic control cabinets and electric utility substations, while SCALANCE X switches are used to connect programmable logic controllers (PLCs), human-machine interfaces (HMI) and other industrial components. According to ICS-CERT, the affected products are deployed worldwide.

This is the third round of patches released by Siemens for its Ruggedcom devices this year. High severity flaws were also addressed by the German automation giant in early and late March.

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Eduard Kovacs is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.