Impact

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Description

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:

NameTacticsTechnical Description
Damage to PropertyImpactAdversaries 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.2

A 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 ControlImpactAdversaries 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.
Denial of ViewImpactAdversaries 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 AvailabilityImpactAdversaries 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.
Loss of ControlImpactAdversaries 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
Loss of Productivity and RevenueImpactAdversaries 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 some cases, this may result from the postponement and disruption of ICS operations and production as part of a remediation effort. Operations may be brought to a halt and effectively stopped in an effort to contain and properly remove malware or due to the Loss of Safety.
Loss of SafetyImpactAdversaries may cause loss of safety whether on purpose or as a consequence of actions taken to accomplish an operation. The loss of safety can describe a physical impact and threat, or the potential for unsafe conditions and activity in terms of control systems environments, devices, or processes. For instance, an adversary may issue commands or influence and possibly inhibit safety mechanisms that allow the injury of and possible loss of life. This can also encompass scenarios resulting in the failure of a safety mechanism or control, that may lead to unsafe and dangerous execution and outcomes of physical processes and related systems.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.

A 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. As a consequence, four trams were derailed and twelve people injured due to resulting emergency stops.4 The track controlling commands issued may have also resulted in tram collisions, a further risk to those on board and nearby the areas of impact.5
Loss of ViewImpactAdversaries 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 ControlImpactAdversaries 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:

  • Man-in-the-middle
  • Spoof command message
  • Changing setpoints
Manipulation of ViewImpactAdversaries 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 InformationImpactAdversaries 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.910