Triton Malware ICS Industrial Trojan
Trojan | 06/08/2018

Triton Malware – Industrial sabotage resulting in automatic shutdown!

About: Triton Malware is an industrial specific malware created to affect Triconex Safety Instrumented System (SIS) controllers to cause industrial sabotage and fail-safe failure. This can lead to physical damage to industrial control systems. Steps should ...  Read More  

| Trojan | Triton Malware – Industrial sabotage resulting in automatic shutdown!

Triton Malware – An Industrial trojan that attacks the triconex Safety Instrumented System (SIS) controllers to cause false notification of fail-safe leading to automatic operational shutdown.

Triton Malware – Introduction

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 – Threat Behavior

Triton malware installs two main modules. One is trilog.exe that was used as the main executable file to maximize the output of; 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.

Method of attack

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.

How to safeguard against the infiltration of Triton Malware?

  1. SIS controllers should be independent from other DCS process control or information system network.
  2. Physical keys should not be left unattended in the PROGRAM mode except during scheduled programming events.
  3. Implement Change management procedures for changes to key positions regularly and audit the key state regularly.
  4. Use unidirectional gateway in SIS controller for network connections for any applications.
  5. Implemention of strict access control servers or workstations that can reach SIS over TCP/IP.
  6. Application whitelisting database to be prepared and used.

Monitoring ICS network traffic for unwanted communication or other unsolicited activity.

Threat summary

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.

Windows XP

  1. Click on the “Start” button on the bottom left corner of your screen. A Start menu will be displayed as shown below. From this menu select the option that reads “Control Panel”.Windows XP start menu image
  2. In the window that will be displayed, click the option “Switch to classic view”.Control panel switch to classic view
  3. This will display all the options/icons available to you. From the displayed icons, click on the icon that reads “Add or Remove Programs”.Windows XP add or remove a program
  4. Select the “Uninstall a program” option from the “Programs” category. A list will populate on the screen displaying all the programs.Uninstall a malicious program
  5. Select the programs related to Triton Malware and click on the Uninstall button.Windows XP confirmation window

Windows 7/Vista

  1. Right click on the “Start” button located at the lower left corner of the screen. From the Start menu, click on “Control Panel”.Windows 7 start menu
  2. The “Control Panel” Window will be displayed on the screen. Click on “Uninstall a Program” option from the “Programs” category.Uninstall a program from windows 7
  3. The “Programs and Features” window will be displayed on the screen. A list will populate on the screen displaying all the programs.
  4. Scroll though the list of programs and select the programs related to Triton Malware and then click on the “Uninstall” button.uninstall a program in Windows 7

Windows 8/10

  1. Right click on the “Windows logo” on the lower left side of the computer screen. From the drop down menu, select and click on “Control Panel”.Windows 10 start menu
  2. The “Control Panel” window will be displayed. From this window select “Uninstall a program” option form the “Programs” category.Control panel
  3. A list will populate on the screen displaying all the programs and features option
  4. Select the programs related to Triton Malware and click on the “Uninstall” button.uninstall a program in windows 8
  5. In the confirmation box, click on the box that reads “OK” to save changes.

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:

  1. Type the command “sc delete trilog.exe” in the command prompt and press Enter.
  2. Type “exit” to exit the command prompt and restart the system in safe mode with command prompt.


STEP C – Restore System files and settings in safe mode.

Method 1 using Control Panel

  1. Click on the ‘Start’ button on the taskbar. This will open the Start menu.
  2. Click on the ‘Control Panel’ button in the Start menu. This will open the control panel window.
  3. In the Control Panel window, click on the ‘View by:’ button on the top right. Select the Large Icon option
  4. In the control Panel window click on the ‘Recovery Icon’. This will open a window that will ask ‘Restore the computer to an earlier point in time’.
  5. Click on the ‘Open system restore’ button. This will open the ‘system restore ’window where you need to click on the Next Button.
  6.  Select the restore point that is prior the infiltration of Triton Malware After doing that, click Next.
  7. This will open the ‘Confirm your restore point’ dialog box. Click on Finish button. This will restore your system to a previous restore point before your system was infected by Triton Malware.

Method 2 using Command Prompt

  1. Type cmd in the search box and click on the command prompt to open the Command Prompt window. box and clicking on it.
  2. Once the Command Prompt window shows up, enter cd restore and click Enter.(Ensure that you in the system32 directory of Windows folder in C Drive)
  3. Now type rstrui and press Enter again.
  4. When a new window shows up, click Next and select your restore point that is prior the infiltration of Triton Malware. After doing that, click Next.
  5. This will open the ‘Confirm your restore point’ dialog box. Click on Finish button. This will restore your system to a previous restore point before your system was infected by Triton Malware.


Method 3 : Directly type 'rstrui' in the search box

  1. Type ‘Rstrui’ in the search box present on the task bar. This will open the System restore dialog box.

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 –

  1. Open My Computer and search for the folder you want to restore.
  2. As soon as you find it, right click on it and choose the restore previous version option from the new window.restore windows previous version
  3. This option will display all the previous copies of the folder.restore windows previous version
  4. Now select restore data and through the options i.e. Open – Copy – Restore. 

Tips to prevent your computer system from getting infected –

  1. Keeping the Operating System Updated- In order to remain protected and avoid such infections, it is recommended to keep your Operating System updated by enabling the automatic update on your system. The systems with outdated or older versions of Operating System become an easy target for the attackers.
  2. Resist clicking on spam emails – One of the major techniques used for malware distribution is forwarding spam emails to the user. The system gets infected as soon as the user clicks on the attachment. These mails appear to be genuine, so be aware and resist falling for these tricks.
  3. Keep an eye on third party installations- It is quite important that you take due care while installing any third party applications for they are major source of such infections. Such malware programs come bundled with the free applications thereby requiring the user to remain cautious.
  4. Regular periodical backup- In order to keep your data and files safe, it is recommended to take regular back up of all your data and files either on an external drive or cloud.
  5. Use Anti-Virus Protection- We strongly recommend the use of antivirus protection/internet security in your PC like Avira and Sophos so that it remains safe.
  6. Enable the Ad Blocker/Popup Blocker in your browser- Enabling the popup blocker/ ad blocker in your chosen browser will help you to stay protected from annoying adware.

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