What is an Industrial Control System?

Industrial Control System (ICS) is a term describing systems that monitor and control industrial processes, such as mine site conveyor belts, oil refinery cracking towers, power consumption on electricity grids, or alarms from building information systems. NIST references them as “encompass[ing] several types of control systems, including supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, distributed control systems (DCS), and other control system configurations such as programmable logic controllers (PLC) often found in the industrial sectors and critical infrastructures.” 

Why scan for ICS?

Governments often describe ICS as critical infrastructure; they are essential to societal and economic function. Their critical nature means changes, updates, and replacements are risky and costly endeavors. Put simply: ICSs are slow to change with a strong bias toward legacy technology and compatibility.

Many ICSs feature custom network serial-based protocols for coordinating industrial hardware. The rise of the modern internet came with worldwide networking standardization. Without security as a priority, many vendors simply packed their legacy protocols inside TCP or UDP and called their devices network or internet-ready. 

ICSs critical nature – combined with lagging security – incentivizes attackers and defenders to scan the internet for exposed devices. 

Can I see ICS scanning in GreyNoise?

GreyNoise Researchers have identified and created tags for the following ICS-related protocols:

Next steps

Create a free account today to start researching ICS-related protocols and more.

This article is a summary of the full, in-depth version on the GreyNoise Labs blog.
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