21 May 2017
Today, Firewalls are the preferred means to separate a production network from a company’s intranet. Firewall configuration is performed by the Rumsfeld Conundrum: Block everything you don’t know!
For production management and IT and OT operations, we need some communication between systems in the company intranet and the production network. These required (known) connections are defined in the firewall rule base. The firewall allows communication between these known systems, and blocks any other connection attempts.
As long as the SMB V1.0 protocol is not used for communication across the firewall, the Rumsfeld Conundrum works pretty well.
Unfortunately, the SMB protocol is frequently used to implement required connections between Windows-based computers in the company intranet and the production network, e.g. for the exchange of manufacturing orders. With this, production systems become vulnerable to WannaCry although a firewall is in place because the firewall does not block communication across required connections. In the worst case, if WannaCry spreads across required connections to systems in the production network, this may result in loss of production.
Immediate action is required. The firewall rule base is a good starting point to determine how big the problem is, and to identify the systems that must be immediately patched or otherwise secured, if patching is not possible due to technical or regulatory restrictions.
Firewalls are an indispensable part of a defense in depth concept, but plain packet filtering is no effective means against attacks like WannaCry.
Have a good week, and take care of you production networks.