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On Ladder Logic Bombs in Industrial Control Systems

  • Naman Govil
  • Anand AgrawalEmail author
  • Nils Ole Tippenhauer
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10683)

Abstract

In industrial control systems, devices such as Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) are commonly used to directly interact with sensors and actuators, and perform local automatic control. PLCs run software on two different layers: (a) firmware (i.e. the OS) and (b) control logic (processing sensor readings to determine control actions).

In this work, we discuss ladder logic bombs, i.e. malware written in ladder logic (or one of the other IEC 61131-3-compatible languages). Such malware would be inserted by an attacker into existing control logic on a PLC, and either persistently change the behavior, or wait for specific trigger signals to activate malicious behavior. For example, the LLB could replace legitimate sensor readings with manipulated values. We see the concept of LLBs as a generalization of attacks such as the Stuxnet attack. We introduce LLBs on an abstract level, and then demonstrate several designs based on real PLC devices in our lab. In particular, we also focus on stealthy LLBs, i.e. LLBs that are hard to detect by human operators manually validating the program running in PLCs.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by SUTD’s startup grant SRIS14081.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IIIT HyderabadHyderabadIndia
  2. 2.Information Systems Technology and Design PillarSingapore University of Technology and DesignSingaporeSingapore

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