The adversary is trying to manipulate, interrupt, or destroy your ICS systems, data, and their surrounding environment.
Impact consists of techniques that adversaries use to disrupt, compromise, destroy, and manipulate the integrity and availability of control system operations, processes, devices, and data. These techniques encompass the influence and effects resulting from adversarial efforts to attack the ICS environment or that tangentially impact it. Impact techniques can result in more instantaneous disruption to control processes and the operator, or may result in more long term damage or loss to the ICS environment and related operations. The adversary may leverage Impair Process Control techniques, which often manifest in more self-revealing impacts on operations, or Inhibit Response Function techniques to hinder safeguards and alarms in order to follow through with and provide cover for Impact. In some scenarios, control system processes can appear to function as expected, but may have been altered to benefit the adversary’s goal over the course of a longer duration. These techniques might be used by adversaries to follow through on their end goal or to provide cover for a confidentiality breach.
Loss of Productivity and Revenue, Theft of Operational Information, and Damage to Property are meant to encompass some of the more granular goals of adversaries in targeted and untargeted attacks. These techniques in and of themselves are not necessarily detectable, but the associated adversary behavior can potentially be mitigated and/or detected.
Techniques in this Tactics Category
Below is a list of all the Impact techniques in ATT&CK for ICS:
|Damage to Property||Impact||Adversaries may cause damage and destruction of property to infrastructure, equipment, and the surrounding environment when attacking control systems. This technique may result in device and operational equipment breakdown, or represent tangential damage from other techniques used in an attack. Depending on the severity of physical damage and disruption caused to control processes and systems, this technique may result in Loss of Safety. Operations that result in Loss of Control may also cause damage to property, which may be directly or indirectly motivated by an adversary seeking to cause impact in the form of Loss of Productivity and Revenue.
The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) reported a targeted attack on a steel mill under an incidents affecting business section of its 2014 IT Security Report.1 These targeted attacks affected industrial operations and resulted in breakdowns of control system components and even entire installations. As a result of these breakdowns, massive impact and damage resulted from the uncontrolled shutdown of a blast furnace.
In the Maroochy Attack, Vitek Boden gained remote computer access to the control system and altered data so that whatever function should have occurred at affected pumping stations did not occur or occurred in a different way. This ultimately led to 800,000 liters of raw sewage being spilled out into the community. The raw sewage affected local parks, rivers, and even a local hotel. This resulted in harm to marine life and produced a sickening stench from the community's now blackened rivers.2A Polish student used a remote controller device to interface with the Lodz city tram system in Poland.345 Using this remote, the student was able to capture and replay legitimate tram signals. This resulted in damage to impacted trams, people, and the surrounding property. Reportedly, four trams were derailed and were forced to make emergency stops.4 Commands issued by the student may have also resulted in tram collisions, causing harm to those on board and the environment outside.5
|Denial of Control||Impact||Adversaries may cause a denial of control to temporarily prevent operators and engineers from interacting with process controls. An adversary may attempt to deny process control access to cause a temporary loss of communication with the control device or to prevent operator adjustment of process controls. An affected process may still be operating during the period of control loss, but not necessarily in a desired state.678
In the Maroochy attack, the adversary was able to temporarily shut an investigator out of the network preventing them from issuing any controls.In the 2017 Dallas Siren incident operators were unable to disable the false alarms from the Office of Emergency Management headquarters.9
|Denial of View||Impact||Adversaries may cause a denial of view in attempt to disrupt and prevent operator oversight on the status of an ICS environment. This may manifest itself as a temporary communication failure between a device and its control source, where the interface recovers and becomes available once the interference ceases.678
An adversary may attempt to deny operator visibility by preventing them from receiving status and reporting messages. Denying this view may temporarily block and prevent operators from noticing a change in state or anomalous behavior. The environment's data and processes may still be operational, but functioning in an unintended or adversarial manner.In the Maroochy attack, the adversary was able to temporarily shut an investigator out of the network, preventing them from viewing the state of the system.
|Loss of Availability||Impact||Adversaries may attempt to disrupt essential components or systems to prevent owner and operator from delivering products or services.678
Adversaries may leverage malware to delete or encrypt critical data on HMIs, workstations, or databases.In the 2021 Colonial Pipeline ransomware incident, pipeline operations were temporally halted on May 7th and were not fully restarted until May 12th.10
|Loss of Control||Impact||Adversaries may seek to achieve a sustained loss of control or a runaway condition in which operators cannot issue any commands even if the malicious interference has subsided.678 The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) reported a targeted attack on a steel mill in its 2014 IT Security Report.1 These targeted attacks affected industrial operations and resulted in breakdowns of control system components and even entire installations. As a result of these breakdowns, massive impact resulted in damage and unsafe conditions from the uncontrolled shutdown of a blast furnace.|
|Loss of Productivity and Revenue||Impact||Adversaries may cause loss of productivity and revenue through disruption and even damage to the availability and integrity of control system operations, devices, and related processes. This technique may manifest as a direct effect of an ICS-targeting attack or tangentially, due to an IT-targeting attack against non-segregated environments.
In cases where these operations or services are brought to a halt, the loss of productivity may eventually present an impact for the end-users or consumers of products and services. The disrupted supply-chain may result in supply shortages and increased prices, among other consequences.
A ransomware attack on an Australian beverage company resulted in the shutdown of some manufacturing sites, including precautionary halts to protect key systems.11 The company announced the potential for temporary shortages of their products following the attack.1112In the 2021 Colonial Pipeline ransomware incident, the pipeline was unable to transport approximately 2.5 million barrels of fuel per day to the East Coast. 10
|Loss of Protection||Impact||Adversaries may compromise protective system functions designed to prevent the effects of faults and abnormal conditions. This can result in equipment damage, prolonged process disruptions and hazards to personnel.
Many faults and abnormal conditions in process control happen too quickly for a human operator to react to. Speed is critical in correcting these conditions to limit serious impacts such as Loss of Control and Property Damage.Adversaries may target and disable protective system functions as a prerequisite to subsequent attack execution or to allow for future faults and abnormal conditions to go unchecked. Detection of a Loss of Protection by operators can result in the shutdown of a process due to strict policies regarding protection systems. This can cause a Loss of Productivity and Revenue and may meet the technical goals of adversaries seeking to cause process disruptions.
|Loss of Safety||Impact||Adversaries may compromise safety system functions designed to maintain safe operation of a process when unacceptable or dangerous conditions occur. Safety systems are often composed of the same elements as control systems but have the sole purpose of ensuring the process fails in a predetermined safe manner.
Many unsafe conditions in process control happen too quickly for a human operator to react to. Speed is critical in correcting these conditions to limit serious impacts such as Loss of Control and Property Damage.Adversaries may target and disable safety system functions as a prerequisite to subsequent attack execution or to allow for future unsafe conditionals to go unchecked. Detection of a Loss of Safety by operators can result in the shutdown of a process due to strict policies regarding safety systems. This can cause a Loss of Productivity and Revenue and may meet the technical goals of adversaries seeking to cause process disruptions.
|Loss of View||Impact||Adversaries may cause a sustained or permanent loss of view where the ICS equipment will require local, hands-on operator intervention; for instance, a restart or manual operation. By causing a sustained reporting or visibility loss, the adversary can effectively hide the present state of operations. This loss of view can occur without affecting the physical processes themselves.678|
|Manipulation of Control||Impact||Adversaries may manipulate physical process control within the industrial environment. Methods of manipulating control can include changes to set point values, tags, or other parameters. Adversaries may manipulate control systems devices or possibly leverage their own, to communicate with and command physical control processes. The duration of manipulation may be temporary or longer sustained, depending on operator detection.
Methods of Manipulation of Control include:
|Manipulation of View||Impact||Adversaries may attempt to manipulate the information reported back to operators or controllers. This manipulation may be short term or sustained. During this time the process itself could be in a much different state than what is reported.678 Operators may be fooled into doing something that is harmful to the system in a loss of view situation. With a manipulated view into the systems, operators may issue inappropriate control sequences that introduce faults or catastrophic failures into the system. Business analysis systems can also be provided with inaccurate data leading to bad management decisions.|
|Theft of Operational Information||Impact||Adversaries may steal operational information on a production environment as a direct mission outcome for personal gain or to inform future operations. This information may include design documents, schedules, rotational data, or similar artifacts that provide insight on operations. In the Bowman Dam incident, adversaries probed systems for operational data.1314|
- Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI) (German Federal Office for Information Security). (2014). Die Lage der IT-Sicherheit in Deutschland 2014 (The State of IT Security in Germany). Retrieved October 30, 2019.
- Marshall Abrams. (2008, July 23). Malicious Control System Cyber Security Attack Case Study– Maroochy Water Services, Australia. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
- John Bill. (2017, May 12). Hacked Cyber Security Railways. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
- Shelley Smith. (2008, February 12). Teen Hacker in Poland Plays Trains and Derails City Tram System. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
- Bruce Schneier. (2008, January 17). Hacking Polish Trams. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
- Corero. (n.d.). Industrial Control System (ICS) Security. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
- Michael J. Assante and Robert M. Lee. (n.d.). The Industrial Control System Cyber Kill Chain. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
- Tyson Macaulay. (n.d.). RIoT Control: Understanding and Managing Risks and the Internet of Things. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
- Mark Loveless. (2017, April 11). THE DALLAS COUNTY SIREN HACK. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
- Colonial Pipeline Company. (2021, May). Media Statement Update: Colonial Pipeline System Disruption. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
- Paganini, Pierluigi. (2020, June 14). Ransomware attack disrupts operations at Australian beverage company Lion. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
- Lion Corporation. (2020, June 26). Lion Cyber incident update: 26 June 2020. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
- Mark Thompson. (2016, March 24). Iranian Cyber Attack on New York Dam Shows Future of War. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
- Danny Yadron. (2015, December 20). Iranian Hackers Infiltrated New York Dam in 2013. Retrieved November 7, 2019.