Triton is the name given to the malware that was designed to specifically target industrial control systems (ICS) to cause industrial sabotage and system failure. The attack by the Triton malware is a framework built to interact with Triconex Safety Instrumented System (SIS) controllers. The motive behind the attack was to cause physical industrial damage or sabotage and cause operational shutdown.
Triton is specific to the malware branch that targets industrial control systems. It follows the footsteps of Stuxnet used against Iran in 2010 and Industroyer used against Ukraine in 2016. Triton is persistent in its attacks and can cause the system fail-safes and safety systems to malfunction.
Triton malware installs two main modules. One is trilog.exe that was used as the main executable file to maximize the output of libraries.zip; a custom communication library for interaction with Triconex controllers.
The malware uses the namesake of a legitimate Triconex Trilog application that is used to review logs and is part of the TriStation application suite. The triton malware was delivered using a Py2EXE compiled python script dependent on a zip file which contained python libraries, open source libraries and the attacker developed Triconex framework to attack Triconex controllers. Two binary files inject.bin and imain.bin that were hard coded into the Py2EXE compiled python script were used for malicious function code and malicious control logic respectively and were deployed as the controllers’ payload.
The trilog.exe used the IP address of the target controller and used it to check the status & the configuration information. If the controller was functional then the trilog.exe encoded the inject.bin and imain.bin as the payload files. These were then passed to the communication libraries and appended to the controllers’ program memory and execution table.
After successful payload delivery, the script periodically checked the status of the controller. In case of error detection, the communication library initiated the SafeAppendProgramMod to reset the controller using the previous state of the TriStation protocol command. In case of failure, trilog.exe tried to write a dummy code that tried to hide the attacker code presence in the Triconex controller.
During a lab environment check, it was found that after the patching of the attack script was corrected to remove a conditional check allowed the payload binary to persist in the controller memory which was obstructed by the malware earlier.
The triton malware uses TriStation Protocol which is the same as the one used by the legitimate TriStation application for configuring controllers.
The attacker used methods to gain remote access to SIS engineering work systems and deployed the Triton malware in the framework to cause SIS controllers to enter a fail-safe state. Once the SIS controllers entered a fail-safe state they initiated a system shutdown of the industrial process.
These SIS controllers also prompted the owners to do a safety check of the whole machinery to pinpoint the fault. After the investigation it was found that the system shutdown was initiated after the application code between redundant processing units which failed a validation check. This resulted in generation of a MP diagnostic failure message.
The investigation also revealed that the attacker had shutdown the system operations to develop the ability to cause physical damage for the sole purpose of increasing the chances of failure.
The attacker was deemed to be a nation backed player who was persistent with his attacks and the critical infrastructure that was targeted. There was no monetary or financial benefit involved for the attacker which led the investigators to believe that the final goal was industrial sabotage to achieve some higher agenda.
The triton malware was deployed very shortly after gaining access to the SIS controller. This was only possible if the attacker was prepared beforehand and had full knowledge of the software and the hardware capabilities and limitations.
The asset owners deploy a myriad of methods to keep the industries safe and hazard free. Industry control systems ICS and Distributed control system (DCS) to safely monitor the industry operational tasks remotely. The triton malware attacked these processes and causes the SIS and DCS to fail so as timely information could not be transmitted to the caretakers and physical sabotage can be done. This then falls to the physical line of defense such as alarms, emergency response procedures and other procedures to prevent dangerous situations.
Monitoring ICS network traffic for unwanted communication or other unsolicited activity.
Name – Triton Malware
Category – Malware, PuP
Targeted Operating systems – Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8.0/8.1, Windows 10
Symptoms – Triconex SIS controllers affected and operational shutdown caused to create industrial sabotage.
STEP A – Remove the Triton malware from the control panel.
Note: Before we begin, try to remember how the extension got downloaded on your computer system. Generally, these programs come bundled with free applications that we download off the internet. It is a good practice to locate and uninstall such programs while removing the Browser Hijacker/ Extensions.
STEP B – Remove the Triton Malware from the Services.
Once the system starts, ensure to use an account with administrative privilege to access Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
After the user enters admin credentials, Command prompt window is displayed wherein you are entitled to enter the below commands:
STEP C – Restore System files and settings in safe mode.
Continue to follow steps 4 & 5 of Method 2 to restore the System Files and settings.
STEP D – Recover files Using safe mode in Windows Previous version.
If the system restore was enabled for both, system and user files, then you can recover your personal data through Windows Previous Version, provided the ransomware has not damaged the backup files. To restore your data follow the instructions given below –
Tips to prevent your computer system from getting infected –
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