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Implementation and Detection of Novel Attacks to the PLC Memory on a Clean Water Supply System

Robles-Durazno, Andres; Moradpoor, Naghmeh; McWhinnie, James; Russell, Gordon; Maneru-Marin, Inaki


Andres Robles-Durazno

James McWhinnie

Inaki Maneru-Marin


Critical infrastructures such as nuclear plants or water supply systems are mainly managed through electronic control systems. Such systems comprise of a number of elements, such as programmable logic controllers (PLC), networking devices, and actuators. With the development of online and networking solutions, such electronic control systems can even be managed online. Even though network connected control systems permit users to keep up to date with system operation, it also opens the door to attackers taking advantages of such availability. In this paper, a novel attack vector for modifying PLC memory is proposed, which affects the perceived values of sensors, such as a water flow meter, or the configuration of actuators, such as a pump. In addition, this attack vector can also manipulate control variables located in the PLC working memory, reprogramming decision making rules. To show the impact of the attacks in a real scenario, a model of a clean water supply system is implemented in the Festo rig. The results show that the attacks on the PLC memory can have a significant detrimental effect on control system operations. Further, a mechanism of detecting such attacks on the PLC memory is proposed based on monitoring energy consumption and electrical signals using current-measurement sensors. The results show the successful implementation of the novel PLC attacks as well as the feasibility of detecting such attacks.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (Published)
Conference Name The 4th International Conference on Technology Trends
Start Date Aug 29, 2018
End Date Aug 31, 2018
Acceptance Date Aug 1, 2018
Online Publication Date Dec 30, 2018
Publication Date 2019
Deposit Date Sep 3, 2018
Publicly Available Date Sep 4, 2018
Publisher Springer
Pages 91-103
Series Title Communications in Computer and Information Science (CCIS)
Series Number 895
Series ISSN 1865-0929
Book Title CITT 2018
ISBN 978-3-030-05531-8
Keywords Industrial Control Systems, Cyber Attacks, Clean Water Supply System, PLC Memory Attack, Clean Water Supply System
Public URL
Contract Date Aug 2, 2018


Implementation and Detection of Novel Attacks to the PLC Memory on a Clean Water Supply System (469 Kb)

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