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Critical Vulnerabilities in Nuke Plant Radiation Monitors

Critical Vulnerabilities Found in Radiation Monitors Used in Nuclear Power Plants, Seaports and Airports.


Critical Vulnerabilities Found in Radiation Monitors Used in Nuclear Power Plants, Seaports and Airports

LAS VEGAS – BLACK HAT USA – Researchers have discovered multiple unpatched vulnerabilities in different radiation monitoring devices that could be leveraged by attackers to reduce personnel safety, delay detection of radiation leaks, or help international smuggling of radioactive material.

In a paper (PDF) delivered by Ruben Santamarta, principal security consultant at Seattle-based IOActive, at Black Hat Wednesday, it was disclosed that radiation monitors supplied by Ludlum, Mirion and Digi contain multiple vulnerabilities.

Patching will be difficult since these are design flaws rather than software bugs; and the vendors’ early response to IOActive’s discoveries was, in each case, to decline to work on patches. Since then, Digi has told IOActive that it is collaborating with Mirion to patch the critical vulnerabilities.

Review of this article

It is a bit horrible to discover just now that a technology, so important for safety, has a so badly protected IT component.

Question of interauditing in critical activities sectors

Were these products audited during their development cycles ? Who did it ? Was it an independant (from the developer) company ?

Is it a lack of competencies in this sector regarding software implementations ?

A lot of questions arised from these discoveries as the total lack of security in some of the audited products is really unacceptable.

Consequences of such flaws

The consequences can be huge. As the consultant Ruben Santamarta said, an attack can generate a false negative in nuclear power plants radiation detectors. It can lead to a massive leakage of radiations from these plants with all its consequences on public safety.

A need for multi-auditing in this type of sector can't now be avoided.

These companies must find a way to ensure the quality of their products or, at least, a minimum level of security. They should have a trail of continuous auditing by external viewers.

A way to do that could be by partially opensourcing, on an enough sized community, the most vulnerable elements.

They also can stick on already developed security standards and adapt their development and business cycles accordingly (one standard is to put every communication layer on SSL/TLS).

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