Research Output

Implementation and Detection of Novel Attacks to the PLC Memory on a Clean Water Supply System

  Critical infrastructures such as nuclear plants or water supply systems are mainly managed through electronic control systems. Such systems comprise of a number of elements, such as programmable logic controllers (PLC), networking devices, and actuators. With the development of online and networking solutions, such electronic control systems can even be managed online. Even
though network connected control systems permit users to keep up to date with system operation, it also opens the door to attackers taking advantages of such availability. In this paper, a novel attack vector for modifying PLC memory is proposed, which affects the perceived values of sensors, such as a water flow meter, or the configuration of actuators, such as a pump. In addition, this attack
vector can also manipulate control variables located in the PLC working memory, reprogramming decision making rules. To show the impact of the attacks in a real scenario, a model of a clean water supply system is implemented in the Festo rig.
The results show that the attacks on the PLC memory can have a significant detrimental effect on control system operations. Further, a mechanism of detecting such attacks on the PLC memory is proposed based on monitoring energy consumption and electrical signals using current-measurement sensors. The results show the successful implementation of the novel PLC attacks as well as the feasibility
of detecting such attacks.

  • Date:

    01 August 2018

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    QA76 Computer software

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    005.4 Systems programming and programs

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Robles-Durazno, A., Moradpoor, N., McWhinnie, J., Russell, G., & Maneru-Marin, I. (in press). Implementation and Detection of Novel Attacks to the PLC Memory on a Clean Water Supply System. In CITT 2018



Industrial Control Systems, Cyber Attacks, Clean Water Supply System, PLC Memory Attack, Clean Water Supply System

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