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T0800 Activate Firmware Update Mode

Adversaries may activate firmware update mode on devices to prevent expected response functions from engaging in reaction to an emergency or process malfunction. For example, devices such as protection relays may have an operation mode designed for firmware installation. This mode may halt process monitoring and related functions to allow new firmware to be loaded. A device left in update mode may be placed in an inactive holding state if no firmware is provided to it. By entering and leaving a device in this mode, the adversary may deny its usual functionalities.

Item Value
ID T0800
Tactics TA0107
Platforms Field Controller/RTU/PLC/IED, Safety Instrumented System/Protection Relay
Version 1.0
Created 21 May 2020
Last Modified 24 October 2022

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0604 Industroyer The Industroyer SPIROTEC DoS module places the victim device into firmware update mode. This is a legitimate use case under normal circumstances, but in this case is used the adversary to prevent the SPIROTEC from performing its designed protective functions. As a result the normal safeguards are disabled, leaving an unprotected link in the electric transmission. 2


ID Mitigation Description
M0801 Access Management All devices or systems changes, including all administrative functions, should require authentication. Consider using access management technologies to enforce authorization on all management interface access attempts, especially when the device does not inherently provide strong authentication and authorization functions.
M0800 Authorization Enforcement Restrict configurations changes and firmware updating abilities to only authorized individuals.
M0802 Communication Authenticity Protocols used for device management should authenticate all network messages to prevent unauthorized system changes.
M0937 Filter Network Traffic Filter for protocols and payloads associated with firmware activation or updating activity.
M0804 Human User Authentication Devices that allow remote management of firmware should require authentication before allowing any changes. The authentication mechanisms should also support Account Use Policies, Password Policies, and User Account Management
M0807 Network Allowlists Use host-based allowlists to prevent devices from accepting connections from unauthorized systems. For example, allowlists can be used to ensure devices can only connect with master stations or known management/engineering workstations. 1
M0930 Network Segmentation Segment operational network and systems to restrict access to critical system functions to predetermined management systems. 1
M0813 Software Process and Device Authentication Authenticate connections fromsoftware and devices to prevent unauthorized systems from accessing protected management functions.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0015 Application Log Application Log Content
DS0029 Network Traffic Network Traffic Content
DS0040 Operational Databases Device Alarm