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Conference Paper
Gonzalez, D., Alhenaki, F., Mirakhorli, M..  2019.  Architectural Security Weaknesses in Industrial Control Systems (ICS) an Empirical Study Based on Disclosed Software Vulnerabilities. 2019 IEEE International Conference on Software Architecture (ICSA). :31–40.

Industrial control systems (ICS) are systems used in critical infrastructures for supervisory control, data acquisition, and industrial automation. ICS systems have complex, component-based architectures with many different hardware, software, and human factors interacting in real time. Despite the importance of security concerns in industrial control systems, there has not been a comprehensive study that examined common security architectural weaknesses in this domain. Therefore, this paper presents the first in-depth analysis of 988 vulnerability advisory reports for Industrial Control Systems developed by 277 vendors. We performed a detailed analysis of the vulnerability reports to measure which components of ICS have been affected the most by known vulnerabilities, which security tactics were affected most often in ICS and what are the common architectural security weaknesses in these systems. Our key findings were: (1) Human-Machine Interfaces, SCADA configurations, and PLCs were the most affected components, (2) 62.86% of vulnerability disclosures in ICS had an architectural root cause, (3) the most common architectural weaknesses were “Improper Input Validation”, followed by “Im-proper Neutralization of Input During Web Page Generation” and “Improper Authentication”, and (4) most tactic-related vulnerabilities were related to the tactics “Validate Inputs”, “Authenticate Actors” and “Authorize Actors”.

Santos, J. C. S., Tarrit, K., Mirakhorli, M..  2017.  A Catalog of Security Architecture Weaknesses. 2017 IEEE International Conference on Software Architecture Workshops (ICSAW). :220–223.

Secure by design is an approach to developing secure software systems from the ground up. In such approach, the alternate security tactics are first thought, among them, the best are selected and enforced by the architecture design, and then used as guiding principles for developers. Thus, design flaws in the architecture of a software system mean that successful attacks could result in enormous consequences. Therefore, secure by design shifts the main focus of software assurance from finding security bugs to identifying architectural flaws in the design. Current research in software security has been neglecting vulnerabilities which are caused by flaws in a software architecture design and/or deteriorations of the implementation of the architectural decisions. In this paper, we present the concept of Common Architectural Weakness Enumeration (CAWE), a catalog which enumerates common types of vulnerabilities rooted in the architecture of a software and provides mitigation techniques to address them. The CAWE catalog organizes the architectural flaws according to known security tactics. We developed an interactive web-based solution which helps designers and developers explore this catalog based on architectural choices made in their project. CAWE catalog contains 224 weaknesses related to security architecture. Through this catalog, we aim to promote the awareness of security architectural flaws and stimulate the security design thinking of developers, software engineers, and architects.