Reid Wightman of Digital Bond Labs presented Vulnerability Inheritance in ICS at S4xJapan, and he posted the video and a technical article yesterday. I’d like to weigh in on the duplicity of 3S, the ineffectiveness of ICS-CERT, and the challenge passed and failed by integrators.

What Reid showed clearly in his presentation, and in the tools he released, is that the six categories of Version 2 vulnerabilities had not been fixed in Version 3. All that CoDeSys did was modify the software slightly so the previous tools did not work.

Here is a simple analogy. Imagine Version 2 was a door that had no lock. All a burglar had to do was turn the doorknob clockwise and the door opened. Rather than putting a lock on the door in Version 3, CoDeSys simply made it so the door would not open if you turned the doorknob clockwise. But if you turned the doorknob counterclockwise, the door opens. What was needed was security, a lock on the door, rather than some trick.

I don’t know what else to say about 3S/CoDeSys except they have done their vendor customers and the end users a major disservice by saying Version 3 fixes the security problems. At least Festo was honest when they said they were not going to fix the vulns.


ICS-CERT is a vendor megaphone, little more. I know they should expect a forthright answer from the vendor, but is it too much for them to ask a couple of questions on how the vulnerabilities were fixed? These are vulnerabilities that affect 100’s of vendor products.

DHS touts the number of vulnerabilities they have handled as a measure of their value and effectiveness. They add little or no useful information to other disclosures, and they don’t perform even basic evaluation of the information.

It is hard to see any benefit to the DHS/ICS-CERT role in disclosure. Close down shop and move the resources to something more useful. My recommendations for years now is for ICS-CERT to ignore 95% of the vulns and to a great job providing value information on the 5% they deem important.


Which leaves the vendors that integrated the CoDeSys software. We are aware of two vendors that looked at the 3S fixes in Version 3, realized they didn’t address the security problems, and built their own protection into the integrated product. A great example of internal Red Teams and SDL doing its job.

The examples of Hitachi and Sanyo-Denki that Reid used at S4xJapan are the case where the vendor did not adequately test third party software that is integrated into their product. Hopefully this will be a learning experience for the CoDeSys customer base.

All ICS vendors are going to have security issues. The important point in evaluating ICS vendor security is how they fix identified problems, and the root cause of the problem in the development lifecycle.

Image by Lyn Matthews