I wasn’t going to talk about this on here for a while, since the public disclosure and paper won’t be out for another six months, probably, but my major professor is so excited about it that he just had to put out a press release:

I’m going to clear up a few things on this, but I’m also going to have a bit of fun…

A Mississippi State graduate student working with the university’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Center could be nicknamed “Johnny-on-the spot.” (sic)

I feel like I’m in the Rat-Pack now.  “Hey Frank, I need a big-leaguer who can trace through this stuff in immdbg!”, “Call that kid up at MSU, he’s a real Johnny-on-the-spot.”

Robert W. “Wes” McGrew

This is the part where we abbreviate my middle name, Wesley (which I go by among people I know), put it in quotes as a nickname, and then place it after my middle initial, which is what it stands for anyw… damnit now even I’m confused.

OK, now for some clarifications:

…discovered what is being called “a significant software vulnerability” that could allow hackers the ability to gain entry to computer control systems of numerous industries and potentially threaten national security.

“We know that this software exists in very critical infrastructures in the U.S.,” said Vaughn. “Through his research, Wes demonstrated how it was possible to obtain unauthorized access to the control system in just a few seconds.

The vulnerabilties that I have found (I’m not even disclosing the software’s name yet) are very serious, however they’re not remote-access-granting by themselves.  Once you have any sort of access, remote or local, you can pretty much run all over the access controls and other security/auditing mechanisms.  It’s still troubling, as many installations of these systems have hacked-together remote access over rdp or software packages like PCAnywhere.  We’ve heard several first-hand accounts of the poor physical security of these systems as well.

There’s been a lot of instances in the past of computers on SCADA networks being compromised by worms, botnet herders, and other attackers that didn’t even realize they were on a SCADA system.  These are the sort of vulnerabilities that can turn a normal attack that happens to be on a SCADA system into an actual control systems attack.

I promise you’ll get all the juicy details you can eat in the paper.

The National Security Agency was notified immediately of McGrew’s discovery. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Homeland Security broadcast an alert that included information on how to rectify the problem.

Too bad you didn’t have your shortwave radio tuned to the right frequency or you would have caught some zero day.  Seriously though, I do think some important installations have been given some heads-up and mitigation strategies.

That’s really about all (or more than) I want say about it at this point :)

Edit: Never going to live this down on IRC:

14:05 < jgk> Robert W. "Wes" McGrew of Collinsville recently discovered
             what is being called "a tiramisu" that could allow hackers
             the ability to gain satiety of numerous industries and
             potentially threaten a toilet.
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