Researchers build undetectable rootkit for programmable logic controllers

Researchers have devised a new malware attack against industrial programmable logic controllers (PLCs) that takes advantage of architectural shortcomings in microprocessors and bypasses current detection mechanisms.

The attack changes the configuration of the input/output pins that make up the interface used by PLCs to communicate with other devices such as sensors, valves, and motors. PLCs are specialized embedded computers used to control and monitor physical processes in factories, power stations, gas refineries, public utilities, and other industrial installations.

The attack, which will be presented at the Black Hat Europe security conference in London on Thursday, was developed by Ali Abbasi, a doctoral candidate in the distributed and embedded system security group at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, and Majid Hashemi, a research and development engineer at Quarkslab, a Paris-based cybersecurity company.

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