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AttkFinder: Discovering Attack Vectors in PLC Programs using Information Flow Analysis

John H. Castellanos, Martin Ochoa, Alvaro A. Cardenas, Owen Arden, Jianying Zhou

Abstract: To protect an Industrial Control System (ICS), defenders need to identify potential attacks on the system and then design mechanisms to prevent them. Unfortunately, identifying potential attack conditions is a time-consuming and error-prone process. In this work, we propose and evaluate a set of tools to symbolically analyse the software of Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) guided by an information flow analysis that takes into account PLC network communication (compositions). Our tools systematically analyse malicious network packets that may force the PLC to send specific control commands to actuators. We evaluate our approach in a real-world system controlling the dosing of chemicals for water treatment. Our tools are able to find 75 attack tactics (56 were novel attacks), and we confirm that 96% of these tactics cause the intended effect in our testbed.
Keywords: PLC program analysis / information flow / symbolic execution

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