Denial of Service

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Denial of Service
ID T0814
Tactic Inhibit Response Function
Data Sources Alarm history, Data historian, Network protocol analysis, Packet capture, Sequential Event Recorder
Asset Field Controller/RTU/PLC/IED, Safety Instrumented System/Protection Relay


Adversaries may perform Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks to disrupt expected device functionality. Examples of DoS attacks include overwhelming the target device with a high volume of requests in a short time period and sending the target device a request it does not know how to handle. Disrupting device state may temporarily render it unresponsive, possibly lasting until a reboot can occur. When placed in this state, devices may be unable to send and receive requests, and may not perform expected response functions in reaction to other events in the environment.

Some ICS devices are particularly sensitive to DoS events, and may become unresponsive in reaction to even a simple ping sweep. Adversaries may also attempt to execute a Permanent Denial-of-Service (PDoS) against certain devices, such as in the case of the BrickerBot malware.1

Adversaries may exploit a software vulnerability to cause a denial of service by taking advantage of a programming error in a program, service, or within the operating system software or kernel itself to execute adversary-controlled code. Vulnerabilities may exist in software that can be used to cause a or denial of service condition.

Adversaries may have prior knowledge about industrial protocols or control devices used in the environment through Remote System Information Discovery. There are examples of adversaries remotely causing a Device Restart/Shutdown by exploiting a vulnerability that induces uncontrolled resource consumption.234

In the Maroochy attack, the adversary was able to shut an investigator out of the network.5

Procedure Examples

  • The Backdoor.Oldrea payload has caused multiple common OPC platforms to intermittently crash. This could cause a denial of service effect on applications reliant on OPC communications.6
  • The Industroyer SIPROTEC DoS module exploits the CVE-2015-5374 vulnerability in order to render a Siemens SIPROTEC device unresponsive. Once this vulnerability is successfully exploited, the target device stops responding to any commands until it is rebooted manually.7 Once the tool is executed it sends specifically crafted packets to port 50,000 of the target IP addresses using UDP. The UDP packet contains the following 18 byte payload: 0x11 49 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 28 9E.7
  • The execution on the PLC can be stopped by violating the cycle time limit. The PLC-Blaster implements an endless loop triggering an error condition within the PLC with the impact of a DoS.8


  • Watchdog Timers - System and process restarts should be performed when a timeout condition occurs.