Cloud services offer a number of benefits such as scalability, high availability, and decreased ownership cost. As a result, owners and operators in several critical infrastructure sectors such as Communications, Energy, Financial Services, Information Technology, and Transportation Services have migrated in-house computing resources to cloud infrastructures. However, cloud service environments still possess many of the same potential vulnerabilities associated with internally hosted environments, as well as additional exploits to virtual systems or networks. Owners and operators of critical infrastructure need to fully understand the risk environment as they address current cloud services and consider additional migration.
With utilities in the U.S. and around the world increasingly moving toward smart grid technology and other upgrades with inherent cyber vulnerabilities, correlative threats from malicious cyber attacks on the North American electric grid continue to grow in frequency and sophistication. The potential for malicious actors to access and adversely affect physical electricity assets of U.S. electricity generation, transmission, or distribution systems via cyber means is a primary concern for utilities contributing to the bulk electric system. This paper seeks to illustrate the current cyber-physical landscape of the U.S. electric sector in the context of its vulnerabilities to cyber attacks, the likelihood of cyber attacks, and the impacts cyber events and threat actors can achieve on the power grid. In addition, this paper highlights utility perspectives, perceived challenges, and requests for assistance in addressing cyber threats to the electric sector.
An unidentified actor or actors between November 2016 and January 2017 targeted a US water and sewage authority’s network, resulting in excessive cellular charges and unusual traffic on ports 10000 and 9600, according to an FBI source with excellent access who spoke in confidence but whose reliability cannot be determined. The FBI source indicated that four of the seven devices on the authority’s cellular data plan were impacted with high data usage, which was likely a result of compromised network devices. The November 2016–December 2016 billing cycle totaled $45,000, and the December 2016–January 2017 billing cycle totaled $53,000.
The Joint United States-Canada Electric Grid Security and Resilience Strategy (Strategy) is a collaborative effort between the Federal Governments of the United States and Canada and is intended to strengthen the security and resilience of the U.S. and Canadian electric grid from all adversarial, technological, and natural hazards and threats. The Strategy, released concurrently with this National Electric Grid Security and Resilience Action Plan (Action Plan), details bilateral goals to address the vulnerabilities of the respective and shared electric grid infrastructure of the United States and Canada, not only as an energy security concern, but for reasons of national security. The implementation of the Strategy requires continued action of a nationwide network of governments, departments and agencies (agencies), and private sector partners. This Action Plan details the activities, deliverables, and timelines that will be undertaken primarily by U.S. Federal agencies for the United States to make progress toward the Strategy’s goals.
This Joint United States-Canada Electric Grid Security and Resilience Strategy (Strategy) is a collaborative effort between the Federal Governments of the United States and Canada and is intended to strengthen the security and resilience of the U.S. and Canadian electric grid from all adversarial, technological, and natural hazards and threats. The Strategy addresses the vulnerabilities of the two countries’ respective and shared electric grid infrastructure, not only as an energy security concern, but for reasons of national security. This joint Strategy relies on the existing strong bilateral collaboration between the United States and Canada, and reflects a joint commitment to enhance a shared approach to risk management for the electric grid. It also articulates a common vision of the future electric grid that depends on effective and expanded collaboration among those who own, operate, protect, and rely on the electric grid. Because the electric grid is complex, vital to the functioning of modern society, and dependent on other infrastructure for its function, the United States and Canada developed the Strategy under the shared principle that security and resilience require increasingly collaborative efforts and shared approaches to risk management.
(U//FOUO) DHS Intelligence Assessment: Damaging Cyber Attacks Possible but Not Likely Against the US Energy Sector
This Assessment establishes a baseline analysis of cyber threats to the US energy sector based on comprehensive FY 2014 incident reporting data compiled by ICS-CERT, as well as reporting by the Intelligence Community (IC), private sector cybersecurity industry, and open source media between early 2011 and January 2016. This Assessment is designed to help close gaps between the private sector’s and the IC’s understanding of current cyber threats facing the US energy sector. Critical infrastructure owners and operators can use this analysis to better understand cyber threats facing the US energy sector and help focus defensive strategies and operations to mitigate these threats. The Assessment does not include an in-depth analysis of foreign cyber doctrines or nation-state red lines for conducting cyber attacks against the United States. The information cutoff date for this Assessment is January 2016.
Unless cyber vulnerabilities are addressed, they will pose a significant risk to port facilities and aboard vessels within the Maritime Subsector. These potential vulnerabilities include limited cybersecurity training and preparedness, errors in software, inadequately protected commercial off-the-shelf technologies and legacy systems, network connectivity and interdependencies, software similarities, foreign dependencies, global positioning system jamming-spoofing, and insider threats.
Dam safety incidents can occur at any point during a dam’s lifetime, but the most common period of dam failure is the first 5 years of operation. The United States Society of Dams conducted a study in 2009 of 1,158 national and international dam failures and safety incidents and found that 31 percent of safety incidents occur during construction or within the first 5 years of operation. The most common causes of failure are overtopping, piping, and foundation defects. Overtopping caused by flooding and high-water events accounts for 34 percent of dam failures in the United States. Erosion caused by overtopping can compromise embankments and lead to failure. The risk of overtopping increases if the spillway design is inadequate, debris causes spillway blockage, or the dam crest settles.
Most locks are designed to last for 50 years, but 54 percent of IMTS locks are more than 50 years old, and 36 percent are more than 70 years old. Many of these locks are in need of repair and replacement, and some lack basic maintenance. Concrete is crumbling at some locks, and some have not been painted in 25–30 years, increasing the risk of corrosion. Locks lacking maintenance or in need of repair and replacement are more likely to have unscheduled closures. Unscheduled closures are more costly than scheduled closures, because vessel operators and companies are unable to plan to offset the delays from these incidents. The annual number of unscheduled lock closures has steadily increased since 1992. Fewer than 7,000 unscheduled closures occurred every year before 2000, and more than 7,000 occurred every year after 2000, peaking in 2008 with 13,250.
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis (DHS/OCIA) produces Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Notes in response to changes in the infrastructure community’s risk environment from terrorist activities, natural hazards, and other events. This product summarizes the findings related to highway bridges that were identified in the National Risk Estimate on Aging and Failing Critical Infrastructure Systems released by DHS/OCIA in December 2014.
As technology pervades into our everyday lives, once simple devices have become smarter and more interconnected to the world around us. This technology is transforming our cities into what are now referred to as “Smart-Cities”. Smart Cities have been defined as urban centers that integrate cyber-physical technologies and infrastructure to create environmental and economic efficiency while improving the overall quality of life. The goal of these new cities is to create a higher quality of life, a more mobile life and an overall increased efficient use of available resources. Some examples of Smart-City technologies are interconnected power grids reducing power waste, smarter transportation resulting in increased traffic management, and smarter infrastructures that reduce hazards and increase efficiency.
(U//FOUO) DHS Infrastructure Protection Note: Most Significant Tactics Against the Electricity Subsector
This IP Note is a joint publication of OCIA and the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) Homeland Counterterrorism Division. It is intended to identify high- consequence tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used during attacks and incidents that occurred at electrical substations, facilities, and associated electrical infrastructure from 2002 to 2013. The incidents identified in this report have no known nexus to terrorism.
The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Homeland Infrastructure Threat and Risk Analysis Center (HITRAC) produced this National Risk Estimate (NRE) to provide an authoritative, coordinated, risk-informed assessment of the key security issues faced by the Nation’s infrastructure protection community from malicious insiders. DHS used subject matter expert elicitations and tabletop exercises to project the effect of historic trends on risks over the next 3 to 5 years. In addition, DHS used alternative futures analysis to examine possible futures involving insider threats to critical infrastructure over the next 20 years. The results are intended to provide owners and operators a better understanding of the scope of the threat and can inform mitigation plans, policies, and programs, particularly those focused on high-impact attacks.
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis (DHS/OCIA) Homeland Infrastructure Threat and Risk Analysis Center (HITRAC) produces Sector Resilience Reports to improve partner understanding of the interdependencies and resilience of certain sectors. Specifically, this report provides a brief overview of the electric power system, and analysis of key electric power system dependencies and interdependencies. Additionally, this product includes an assessment of, and best practices for, improving community, system, and facility resilience. This Sector Resilience Report was produced to complement other sector-specific guidance, analysis, and scholarly papers on infrastructure resilience by applying data obtained from DHS site visits and assessments analyzing the resilience of critical infrastructure assets and systems.
(U//FOUO) Colorado Information Analysis Center Bulletin: Vulnerabilities in Knox-Box Key Entry Systems
The Knox-Box® rapid entry system is an access control system utilized by public safety agencies. This system allows facilities to securely store entry keys or cards on site for first responders. First responders utilize a master key that unlocks all Knox boxes within their jurisdiction. Currently there are over 3.5 million Knox-Box rapid entry systems in use nationwide and over 11,500 fire departments in North America that use the Knox-Box rapid entry system. In one Colorado fire district there are over 4,000 Knox-Box systems in use within the local, state, and federal government which includes; energy, water, postal, emergency services, defense, transportation, and communication sectors. Unauthorized access to the system would allow individuals to bypass physical security measures at the site. The unauthorized individuals would also be able to duplicate keys, or remove entry keys or cards which would delay first responders.
Within DHS, this overarching responsibility for critical infrastructure protection is delegated to the National Protection and Programs Directorate’s (NPPD) Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP), specifically the Sector-Specific Agency Executive Management Office (SSA EMO) CF Branch for commercial facilities. Serving as the Sector-Specific Agency (SSA) for the CF Sector, the CF Branch works with its partners to address and highlight low-cost preparedness and risk management options in the products and tools it makes available to the private sector. For example, the CF SSA has been working to produce a suite of protective measures guides that provide an overview of best practices and protective measures designed to assist owners and operators in planning and managing security at their facilities or events. The Protective Measures Guide for the U.S. Outdoor Venues Industry is one of these guides and reflects the special considerations and challenges posed by the Outdoor Venues Subsector.
A recent version of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Risk Profile found that old and deteriorating infrastructure in the U.S. could pose significant risks to the nation and its economy. According to the report, insufficient funding of inspection and maintenance of critical infrastructure throughout the U.S. could create wide-ranging problems as the nation’s infrastructure continues to age. Along with pandemics and nuclear terrorism, a draft version of the DHS National Risk Profile for 2011 lists “aging infrastructure” as having a “potentially significant impact” on the nation’s critical infrastructure. The assessment states that “unusable, ineffectual, and deteriorating critical infrastructure, as well as the potential for exploitation of these vulnerabilities, increase risk . . . due to the inadvertent introduction of flaws, reduced inspection and maintenance workforce, and insufficient investment.” Moreover, this is not a limited threat, as the assessment states that the “entire United States is at risk from aging infrastructure that will eventually “affect all critical infrastructure sectors and ultimately reduce or erode their capacity and lifetimes in unexpected and unpredicted ways.”
A DHS presentation from March 11, 2013 regarding the implementation of Executive Order 13636 “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity” authored by the Cyber-Dependent Infrastructure Identification Working Group (CDIIWG).
The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) is warning law enforcement and first responders that urban exploration, an activity that involves trying to gain access to restricted or abandoned man-made structures, can provide useful information for terrorists conducting surveillance of a potential target. Also known as “building hacking”, urban exploration has been around in its modern form for decades, tracing some its more recent history to post-war exploration of the Parisian catacombs and members of MIT’s Tech Model Railroad Club Signals and Power Subcommittee, who organized explorations of steam tunnels and rooftops around campus in the late 1950s.
(U//FOUO) National Counterterrorism Center: Urban Exploration Offers Insight on Infrastructure Vulnerabilities
Urban Explorers (UE)—hobbyists who seek illicit access to transportation and industrial facilities in urban areas—frequently post photographs, video footage, and diagrams on line that could be used by terrorists to remotely identify and surveil potential targets. Advanced navigation and mapping technologies, including three dimensional modeling and geo-tagging, could aid terrorists in pinpointing locations in dense urban environments. Any suspicious UE activity should be reported to the nearest State and Major Area Fusion Center and to the local FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Tens of thousands of dams, levees, navigation locks, industrial waste impoundments, and other water retention and control structures are located throughout the United States. Due to their iconic nature and potential impact on public safety, these structures present attractive targets for terrorist activity. Explosive attacks pose a significant threat, as evidenced by past plots against foreign infrastructure targets. Cyber intrusions present another concern and could be used to sabotage or control site operations. The FBI is interested in any information that could help mitigate threats to the security of dams or other water retention and control infrastructure.
Maritime transportation infrastructure—to include watercraft, seaports, harbors, and waterways—is vital to the United States’ economy and national security. Maritime shipping accounts for ninety-nine percent of all US overseas trade. Additionally, passenger ships transport more than 140 million people to and from US ports each year. Countless vacationers enjoy maritime recreation on US lakes and beaches. All of these activities depend upon safe and open waterways, which the FBI defends from a variety of criminal and national security threats. A top concern is that past attacks on foreign passenger ferries and cargo liners could inspire similar action against US commercial vessels. Additional threats to maritime security include: contraband smuggling, human trafficking, piracy and crimes at sea, and cyber attacks against maritime information systems.