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Conference Paper
Korman, Matus, Välja, Margus, Björkman, Gunnar, Ekstedt, Mathias, Vernotte, Alexandre, Lagerström, Robert.  2017.  Analyzing the Effectiveness of Attack Countermeasures in a SCADA System. Proceedings of the 2Nd Workshop on Cyber-Physical Security and Resilience in Smart Grids. :73–78.

The SCADA infrastructure is a key component for power grid operations. Securing the SCADA infrastructure against cyber intrusions is thus vital for a well-functioning power grid. However, the task remains a particular challenge, not the least since not all available security mechanisms are easily deployable in these reliability-critical and complex, multi-vendor environments that host modern systems alongside legacy ones, to support a range of sensitive power grid operations. This paper examines how effective a few countermeasures are likely to be in SCADA environments, including those that are commonly considered out of bounds. The results show that granular network segmentation is a particularly effective countermeasure, followed by frequent patching of systems (which is unfortunately still difficult to date). The results also show that the enforcement of a password policy and restrictive network configuration including whitelisting of devices contributes to increased security, though best in combination with granular network segmentation.

Johnson, Pontus, Lagerström, Robert, Ekstedt, Mathias.  2018.  A Meta Language for Threat Modeling and Attack Simulations. Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Availability, Reliability and Security. :38:1-38:8.

Attack simulations may be used to assess the cyber security of systems. In such simulations, the steps taken by an attacker in order to compromise sensitive system assets are traced, and a time estimate may be computed from the initial step to the compromise of assets of interest. Attack graphs constitute a suitable formalism for the modeling of attack steps and their dependencies, allowing the subsequent simulation. To avoid the costly proposition of building new attack graphs for each system of a given type, domain-specific attack languages may be used. These languages codify the generic attack logic of the considered domain, thus facilitating the modeling, or instantiation, of a specific system in the domain. Examples of possible cyber security domains suitable for domain-specific attack languages are generic types such as cloud systems or embedded systems but may also be highly specialized kinds, e.g. Ubuntu installations; the objects of interest as well as the attack logic will differ significantly between such domains. In this paper, we present the Meta Attack Language (MAL), which may be used to design domain-specific attack languages such as the aforementioned. The MAL provides a formalism that allows the semi-automated generation as well as the efficient computation of very large attack graphs. We declare the formal background to MAL, define its syntax and semantics, exemplify its use with a small domain-specific language and instance model, and report on the computational performance.

Xiong, Wenjun, Carlsson, Per, Lagerström, Robert.  2019.  Re-Using Enterprise Architecture Repositories for Agile Threat Modeling. 2019 IEEE 23rd International Enterprise Distributed Object Computing Workshop (EDOCW). :118–127.

Digitization has increased exposure and opened up for more cyber threats and attacks. To proactively handle this issue, enterprise modeling needs to include threat management during the design phase that considers antagonists, attack vectors, and damage domains. Agile methods are commonly adopted to efficiently develop and manage software and systems. This paper proposes to use an enterprise architecture repository to analyze not only shipped components but the overall architecture, to improve the traditional designs represented by legacy systems in the situated IT-landscape. It shows how the hidden structure method (with Design Structure Matrices) can be used to evaluate the enterprise architecture, and how it can contribute to agile development. Our case study uses an architectural descriptive language called ArchiMate for architecture modeling and shows how to predict the ripple effect in a damaging domain if an attacker's malicious components are operating within the network.

Välja, Margus, Korman, Matus, Lagerström, Robert.  2017.  A Study on Software Vulnerabilities and Weaknesses of Embedded Systems in Power Networks. Proceedings of the 2Nd Workshop on Cyber-Physical Security and Resilience in Smart Grids. :47–52.

In this paper we conduct an empirical study with the purpose of identifying common software weaknesses of embedded devices used as part of industrial control systems in power grids. The data is gathered about the devices and software of 6 companies, ABB, General Electric, Schneider Electric, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Siemens and Wind River. The study uses data from the manufacturersfi online databases, NVD, CWE and ICS CERT. We identified that the most common problems that were reported are related to the improper input validation, cryptographic issues, and programming errors.