Over recent months, cyber actors have demonstrated their continued willingness to conduct malicious cyber activity against critical infrastructure (CI) by exploiting internet-accessible operational technology (OT) assets.[1] Due to the increase in adversary capabilities and activity, the criticality to U.S. national security and way of life, and the vulnerability of OT systems, civilian infrastructure makes attractive targets for foreign powers attempting to do harm to U.S. interests or retaliate for perceived U.S. aggression. OT assets are critical to the Department of Defense (DoD) mission and underpin essential National Security Systems (NSS) and services, as well as the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) and other critical infrastructure. At this time of heightened tensions, it is critical that asset owners and operators of critical infrastructure take the following immediate steps to ensure resilience and safety of U.S. systems should a time of crisis emerge in the near term. The National Security Agency (NSA) along with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recommend that all DoD, NSS, DIB, and U.S. critical infrastructure facilities take immediate actions to secure their OT assets.

Internet-accessible OT assets are becoming more prevalent across the 16 U.S. CI sectors as companies increase remote operations and monitoring, accommodate a decentralized workforce, and expand outsourcing of key skill areas such as instrumentation and control, OT asset management/maintenance, and in some cases, process operations and maintenance. Legacy OT assets that were not designed to defend against malicious cyber activities, combined with readily available information that identifies OT assets connected via the internet (e.g., Shodan,[2] Kamerka [3]), are creating a “perfect storm” of 1) easy access to unsecured assets, 2) use of common, open-source information about devices, and 3) an extensive list of exploits deployable via common exploit frameworks [4] (e.g., Metasploit,[5] Core Impact,[6] and Immunity Canvas [7]). Observed cyber threat activities can be mapped to the MITRE Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge (ATT&CK) for Industrial Controls Systems (ICS) framework.[8] It is important to note that while the behavior may not be technically advanced, it is still a serious threat because the potential impact to critical assets is so high. -Source https://us-cert.cisa.gov/ncas/alerts/aa20-205a

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