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SCADA Access Control Blamed For Israeli Breach

SecurEnvoy : 17 January, 2012  (Technical Article)
Two factor authentication proposed by SecurEnvoy to prevent losses of critical data as observed in high profile Israeli SCADA System attack
Commenting on reports that Anonymous has apparently published the credentials of several Israeli SCADA system users, SecurEnvoy has expressed surprise that the systems concerned were not also protected by authentication technology.

According to Steve Watts, co-founder of the tokenless two-factor authentication specialist, SCADA – Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition – systems are often used for protecting critical national infrastructure platforms such as energy and telecommunications grids.

“These systems are typically based around an embedded and robust version of Windows, which makes them resilient against most malware and allied hacker attacks, but using user/password credentials on their own to secure access is a bit puzzling, given the  critical nature of these types of systems,” he said.

“And whilst there is an argument that users are inconvenienced with having to interact with a two-factor authentication device token when logging, the fact that millions of online banking users are now using this technology proves the case that (2FA) systems really do work,” he added.

The SecurEnvoy co-founder went on to say that, with the advent of tokenless two-factor authentication that uses a mobile phone as the authentication communications medium, there really is no excuse not to use (2FA) technology to secure logons more effectively.

This advice is especially appropriate, he explained, given the claim that of the SCADA systems that Anonymous has posted were using a default password, rather than a personal passphrase.

“Of course, if the SCADA systems were also protected using tokenless two-factor authentication, then the possession of an ID and password on their own would not have allowed access, no matter who was using these credentials,” he said.

“And it’s in these types of situations that tokenless two-factor authentication really comes into its own, as IDs and passwords have a nasty habit of going walkabout on the Internet for many different reasons,” he added

“And regardless of the circumstances, if the person using these credentials – whether authorised or not – doesn’t have the token or tokenless two-factor technology available to them, they can’t authenticate themselves and log in. Period.”
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