Koninklijke Vereniging - Société Royale



Israeli hack attack controls ship as if bridge directed - but with permission

ISRAELI cyber security company Naval Dome says its hacked - with owner's permission - into live, operational systems used to control ship's navigation, radar, engines, pumps and machinery. With the permission and under the supervision of system manufacturers, Naval Dome's cyber engineering team hacked into computer systems owners are legally obliged to use to control their ships. Naval Dome software engineers say they were able to shift the vessel's reported position and mislead the radar display. Another "attack" resulted in machinery being disabled, signals to fuel and ballast pumps being over-ridden and steering gear controls manipulated. "We succeeded in penetrating the system simply by sending an email to the captain's computer," said Naval Dome chief technical officer Asaf Shefi.

"We designed the attack to alter the vessel's position at a critical point during an intended voyage - during night-time passage through a narrow canal," said Mr Shefi, former head of the Israeli Naval C4I and cyber defence unit. "During the attack, the system's display looked normal, but it deceived the officer of the watch. The actual situation was completely different to the one on screen. If the vessel had been operational, it would have almost certainly run aground," he said The Naval Dome hack was able to alter water depth in line with the false position data displayed on screen. "The vessel's crucial parameters - position, heading, depth and speed - were manipulated in a way that the navigation picture made sense and did not arouse suspicion," he said. "This type of attack can easily penetrate the antivirus and firewalls typically used in the maritime sector," Mr Shefi said. "The captain's computer is regularly connected to the internet through a satellite link, which is used for chart updates and for general logistic updates. "

The attacking computer file was transferred to the electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) in the first chart update. The attacking file then identified the disk-on-key use for update and installed itself. So once the officer had updated the ECDIS, the attack file immediately installed itself on to his system."

In a second attack, the test ship's radar was hit. While the radar is widely considered an impregnable, standalone system, Naval Dome's team used the local Ethernet Switch Interface - which connects the radar to the ECDIS, Bridge Alert System and Voyage Data Recorder - to hack the system. "The impact of this controlled attack was quite frightening," said Mr Shefi. "We succeeded in eliminating radar targets, simply deleting them from the screen. At the same time, the system display showed that the radar was working perfectly, including detection thresholds, which were presented on the radar as perfectly normal."

A third controlled attack was performed on the machinery control system (MCS). In this case, Naval Dome's team chose to penetrate the system using an infected USB stick placed in an inlet/socket. "Once we connected to the vessel's MCS, the virus file ran itself and started to change the functionality of auxiliary systems. The first target was the ballast system and the effects were startling. The display was presented as perfectly normal, while the valves and pumps were disrupted and stopped working. We could have misled all the auxiliary systems controlled by the MCS, including air-conditioning, generators, fuel systems and more." Said Naval Dome CEO Itai Sela warned that the virus infecting ship systems can also be unwittingly transferred by the system manufacturer. Said Naval Dome CEO Itai Sela: "Manufacturers themselves can be targeted, when they take control of onboard computers to carry out diagnostics or perform software upgrades, they can inadvertently open the gate to a cyber attattack and infect other PC-based systems onboard the ship. Our solution can prevent this from happening."

Source : Schednet



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