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Over 400 ICS Vulnerabilities Disclosed in 2019: Report

More than 400 vulnerabilities affecting industrial control systems (ICS) were disclosed in 2019 and over a quarter of them had no patches when their existence was made public, according to a report published on Thursday by industrial cybersecurity firm Dragos.

Dragos analyzed 438 ICS vulnerabilities covered in 212 security advisories, roughly the same as in the previous year. Of the 116 unique types of flaws, the most common were improper input validation, stack-based buffer overflow, cross-site scripting (XSS), the use of hardcoded credentials, and uncontrolled resource consumption (i.e. DoS) issues.

According to Dragos, 77% of the advisories published last year covered vulnerabilities in systems typically located deep within a control system network. This includes engineering workstations, HMIs, operator panels, industrial network equipment, and field devices.

The company said 9% of advisories covered flaws in products that could allow an attacker to gain access from the IT network to the OT network, including data historians, OPC servers, VPNs and cross-domain applications.

Nearly three quarters of the advisories described vulnerabilities that could be exploited from the network, while the rest required local or physical access to the targeted machine.

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The cybersecurity firm said half of the vulnerabilities disclosed in 2019 could have led to both loss of view (i.e. inability to monitor or read the state of the system) and loss of control (i.e. inability to modify the state of the system). Forty-three percent of advisories covered flaws that could not cause either loss of view or loss of control.

Dragos found that 26% of advisories did not mention a patch when they were first published, and three quarters of these also had no practical mitigation advice.

The company has also looked for errors in advisories and found that 30% of them contained incorrect data, which is roughly the same as in 2018. However, in 2019, only 19% of individual vulnerability descriptions contained errors, compared to 32% in 2018.

In addition to its ICS vulnerabilities report, Dragos on Thursday published two other reports describing threat groups and the landscape, and lessons learned from threat hunting and incident response. All of them are available in PDF format on Dragos' website.

Related: Researcher Finds Over 60 Vulnerabilities in Physical Security Systems

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Related: CVSS Scores Often Misleading for ICS Vulnerabilities

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at 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.