Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) are devices used on a variety of industrial plants, from small factories to critical infrastructures like nuclear power plants, dams and wastewater systems. Although PLCs were made robust to sustain tough environments, little care was taken to raise defenses against potential cyber threats. As a consequence, threats started pouring in and causing havoc. During this presentation I will talk about the architecture of a PLC and how it can be p0wned. There will be some live demonstration attacks against 3 different brands of PLCs (if the demo demons allow it, if not I will just show a video). Additionally, I will demonstrate two vulnerabilities I recently discovered, affecting the Rockwell MicroLogix 1400 series and the Schneider Modicon M221 controllers.


Thiago Alves, Ph.D. Student and Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Alabama in Huntsville

Thiago Alves received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the"Pontifícia Universidade Católica" (PUC) in 2013. In 2014 he created OpenPLC, the world's first open source industrial controller. OpenPLC is being used as a valuable tool for control system research and education. The OpenPLC project has contributions from several universities and private companies, such as Johns Hopkins and FreeWave Technologies. In 2017 Thiago won first place in CSAW, the world's largest student-run cybersecurity competition, with his innovative embedded security solution for OpenPLC. Currently Thiago is a Ph.D. student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. His research interests include cybersecurity for SCADA systems, industrial controllers and embedded systems.

Detailed Presentation: 

(Source: DEF CON 26)
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