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Virtual, US Eastern | Sat, Jun 13 - Sat, Jun 20, 2020

ICS410: ICS/SCADA Security Essentials

Mon, June 15 - Fri, June 19, 2020

Associated Certification: Global Industrial Cyber Security Professional (GICSP)

SANS has joined forces with industry leaders to equip security professionals and control system engineers with the cybersecurity skills they need to defend national critical infrastructure. ICS410: ICS/SCADA Security Essentials provides a foundational set of standardized skills and knowledge for industrial cybersecurity professionals. The course is designed to ensure that the workforce involved in supporting and defending industrial control systems is trained to keep the operational environment safe, secure, and resilient against current and emerging cyber threats.


The course will provide you with:

  • An understanding of industrial control system components, purposes, deployments, significant drivers, and constraints.
  • Hands-on lab learning experiences to control system attack surfaces, methods, and tools
  • Control system approaches to system and network defense architectures and techniques
  • Incident-response skills in a control system environment
  • Governance models and resources for industrial cybersecurity professionals.

When examining the greatest risks and needs in critical infrastructure sectors, the course authors looked carefully at the core security principles necessary for the range of tasks involved in supporting control systems on a daily basis. While other courses are available for higher-level security practitioners who need to develop specific skills such as industrial control system penetration testing, vulnerability analysis, malware analysis, forensics, secure coding, and red team training, most of these courses do not focus on the people who operate, manage, design, implement, monitor, and integrate critical infrastructure production control systems.

With the dynamic nature of industrial control systems, many engineers do not fully understand the features and risks of many devices. In addition, IT support personnel who provide the communications paths and network defenses do not always grasp the systems' operational drivers and constraints. This course is designed to help traditional IT personnel fully understand the design principles underlying control systems and how to support those systems in a manner that ensures availability and integrity. In parallel, the course addresses the need for control system engineers and operators to better understand the important role they play in cybersecurity. This starts by ensuring that a control system is designed and engineered with cybersecurity built into it, and that cybersecurity has the same level of focus as system reliability throughout the system lifecycle.

When these different groups of professionals complete this course, they will have developed an appreciation, understanding, and common language that will enable them to work together to secure their industrial control system environments. The course will help develop cyber-secure-aware engineering practices and real-time control system IT /OT support carried out by professionals who understand the physical effects of actions in the cyber world.


Course Syllabus

Justin Searle
Mon Jun 15th, 2020
9:00 AM - 12:15 PM ET
1:30 PM - 5:00 PM ET


Takeaway: Students will develop and reinforce a common language and understanding of Industrial Control System (ICS) cybersecurity as well as the important considerations that come with cyber-to-physical operations within these environments. Each student will receive a programmable logic controller (PLC) device to keep. The PLC contains physical inputs and outputs that will be programmed in class and mapped to an operator interface, or HMI, also created in class. This improved hardware-enabled approach provides the necessary cyber-to-physical knowledge that allows students to better understand important ICS operational drivers and constraints that require specific safety protection, communications needs, system management approaches, and cybersecurity implementations. Essential terms, architectures, methodologies, and devices are all covered to build a common language for students from a variety of different roles.

CPE/CMU Credits: 6


Day 1 ICS Overview

  • Global Industrial Cybersecurity Professional (GICSP) Overview
  • Overview of ICS
    • Processes & Roles
    • Industries
  • Purdue Levels 0 and 1
    • Controllers and Field Devices
    • Programming Controllers
    • Exercise: Programming a PLC
  • Purdue Levels 2 and 3
    • HMIs, Historians, Alarm Servers
    • Specialized Applications and Master Servers
  • DCS and SCADA
    • Differences in Location and Latency
    • Exercise: Programming an HMI
  • IT & ICS Differences
    • ICS Life Cycle Challenges
  • Physical and Cyber Security
  • Secure ICS Network Architectures
    • ICS410 Reference Model
    • Design Example
    • Exercise: Architecting a Secure DCS

Justin Searle
Tue Jun 16th, 2020
9:00 AM - 12:15 PM ET
1:30 PM - 5:00 PM ET


Takeaway: If you know the adversary's approaches to attacking an ICS environment, you will be better prepared to defend that environment. Numerous attack vectors exist within an ICS environment. Some are similar to traditional IT systems, while others are more specific to ICS. During Day 2, students will develop a better understanding of where these specific attack vectors exist and how to block them, starting at the lowest levels of the control network. Students will look at different technologies and communications used in Perdue Levels 0 and 1, the levels that are the most different from an IT network. Students will capture fieldbus traffic from the PLCs they programmed in day 1 and look at what other fieldbus protocols used in the industry. Later in the day, students will analyze network captures containing other control protocols that traverse Ethernet-only networks and TCP/IP networks, set up a simulated controller, and interact with it through a control protocol.

CPE/CMU Credits: 6


Day 2: Field Devices and Controllers

  • ICS Attack Surface
    • Threat Actors and Reasons for Attack
    • Attack Surface and Inputs
    • Vulnerabilities
    • Threat/Attack Models
  • Purdue Level 0 and 1
    • Purdue Level 0 and 1 Attacks
    • Control Things Platform
    • Exercise: Finding Passwords in EEPROM Dumps
    • Purdue Level 0 and 1 Technologies
    • Purdue Level 0 and 1 Communications
    • Fieldbus Protocol Families
    • Exercise: Exploring Fieldbus Protocols
    • Purdue Level 0 and 1 Defenses
  • Ethernet and TCP/IP
    • Ethernet Concepts
    • TCP/IP Concepts
    • Exercise: Network Capture Analysis
    • ICS Protocols over TCP/IP
    • Wireshark and ICS Protocols
    • Attacks on Networks
    • Exercise: Enumerating Modbus TCP

Justin Searle
Wed Jun 17th, 2020
9:00 AM - 12:15 PM ET
1:30 PM - 5:00 PM ET


Takeaway: Day 3 will take students through the middle layers of control networks. Students will learn about different methods to segment and control the flow of traffic through the control network. Students will explore cryptographic concepts and how they can be applied to communications protocols and on devices that store sensitive data. Students will learn about the risks of using wireless communications in control networks, which wireless technologies are commonly used, and available defenses for each. After a hand-on network forensics exercise where students follow an attacker from phishing campaign to HMI breach, students will look at HMI, historian, and user interface technologies used in the middle to upper levels of the control network, namely Perdue Levels 2 and 3, while performing attacks on HMI web technologies and interfaces susceptible to password brute force attacks.

CPE/CMU Credits: 6


Day 3: Supervisory Systems

  • Enforcement Zone Devices
    • Firewalls and NextGen Firewalls
    • Data Diodes and Unidirectional Gateways
  • Understanding Basic Cryptography
    • Crypto Keys
    • Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption
    • Hashing and HMACs
    • Digital Signatures
  • Wireless Technologies
    • Satellite and Cellular
    • Mesh Networks and Microwave
    • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  • Wireless Attacks and Defenses
    • 3 Eternal Risks of Wireless
    • Sniffing, DoS, Masquerading, Rogue AP
  • Exercise: Network Forensics of an Attack
  • Purdue Level 2 and 3 Attacks
    • Historians and Databases
    • Exercise: Bypassing Auth with SQL Injection
    • HMI and UI Attacks
    • Web-based Attacks
    • Password Defenses
    • Exercise: Password Fuzzing

Justin Searle
Thu Jun 18th, 2020
9:00 AM - 12:15 PM ET
1:30 PM - 5:00 PM ET


Takeaway: Students will learn essential ICS-related server and workstation operating system capabilities, implementation approaches, and system management practices. Students will receive and work with both Windows- and Linux-based virtual machines in order to understand how to monitor and harden these hosts from attack. Students will examine concepts that benefit ICS systems such as system hardening, log management, monitoring, alerting, and audit approaches, then look at some of the more common applications and databases used in ICS environments across multiple industries. Finally, students will explore attacks and defenses on remote access for control systems.

CPE/CMU Credits: 6


Day 4: Workstations and Servers

    • Patching ICS Systems
      • Patch Decision Tree
      • Vendors, CERTS, and Security Bulletins
    • Defending Microsoft Windows
      • Windows Services
      • Windows Security Policies and GPOs
      • Exercise: Baselining with PowerShell
    • Defending Unix and Linux
      • Differences with Windows
      • Daemons, SystemV, and SystemD
      • Lynis and Bastille
    • Endpoint Security Software
      • Antivirus and Whitelisting
      • Application Sandboxing and Containers
      • Exercise: Configuring Host-Based Firewalls
    • Event Logging and Analysis
      • Windows Event Logs and Audit Policies
      • Syslog and Logrotate
      • Exercise: Windows Event Logs
    • Remote Access Attacks
      • Attacks on Remote Access
      • Honeypots
      • Exercise: Finding Remote Access

Justin Searle
Fri Jun 19th, 2020
9:00 AM - 12:15 PM ET
1:30 PM - 5:00 PM ET


Takeaway: Students will learn about the various models, methodologies, and industry-specific regulations that are used to govern what must be done to protect critical ICS systems. Key business processes that consider risk assessments, disaster recovery, business impact analysis, and contingency planning will be examined from the perspective of ICS environments. On this final course day, students will work together on an incident response exercise that places them squarely in an ICS environment that is under attack. This exercise ties together key aspects of what has been learned throughout the course and presents students with a scenario to review with their peers. Specific incident-response roles and responsibilities are considered, and actions available to defenders throughout the incident response cycle are explored. Students will leave with a variety of resources for multiple industries and will be well prepared to pursue the GICSP, an important ICS-focused professional certification.

CPE/CMU Credits: 6


Day 5: ICS Security Governance

  • Building an ICS Cyber Security Program
    • Starting the Process
    • Frameworks: ISA/IEC 62443, ISO/IEC 27001, NIST CSF
    • Using the NIST CSF
  • Creating ICS Cyber Security Policy
    • Policies, Standards, Guidance, and Procedures
    • Culture and Enforcement
    • Examples and Sources
  • Disaster Recovery
    • DR and BCP Programs
    • Modification for Cyber Security Incidents
  • Measuring Cyber Security Risk
    • Quantitative vs Qualitative
    • Traditional Models
    • Minimizing Subjectivity
  • Incident Response
    • Six Step Process
  • Exercise: Incident Response Tabletop Exercise
  • Final Thoughts and Next Steps
    • Other ICS Courses by SANS
    • Other SANS Curriculums and Courses
    • Netwars

Additional Information

The ICS410 Industrial Control System Security Essentials course consists of instruction and hands-on exercises. The exercises are designed to allow students to put knowledge gained throughout the course into practice in an instructor-led environment. Students will have the opportunity to install, configure, and use the tools and techniques that they have learned.

NOTE: Do not bring a regular production laptop for this class! When installing software, there is always a chance of breaking something else on the system. Students should assume that all data could be lost.

NOTE: It is critical that students have administrator access to the operating system and the ability to disable all security software installed. Changes may need to be made to personal firewalls and other host-based software in order for the labs to work.

Laptop requirements include the following:

  • 64-bit processor with 64-bit operating system
  • VT or other 64-bit virtualization settings enabled in your BIOS to run 64-bit VMs
  • At least eight (8) GB of RAM
  • At least fifty (50) GB of free hard drive space
  • At least one USB port
  • Ability to update BIOS configuration settings to enable virtualization (VT) support
  • VMware Workstation Player 15 (or later), VMware Workstation Pro 15 (or later), or VWware Fusion 11 (or later) installed BEFORE class.
  • Access to an account with administrative permissions and the ability to disable all security software on their laptop such as Antivirus and/or firewalls if needed for the class
  • If you are using Linux for your host machine, you will need ExFAT drivers installed to read the class USB drive

If you have additional questions about the laptop specifications, please contact

The course is designed for the range of individuals who work in, interact with, or can affect industrial control system environments, including asset owners, vendors, integrators, and other third parties. These personnel primarily come from four domains:

  • IT (includes operational technology support)
  • IT security (includes operational technology security)
  • Engineering
  • Corporate, industry, and professional standards

Course participants need to have a basic understanding of networking and system administration, TCP/IP, networking design/architecture, vulnerability assessment, and risk methodologies. ICS410 covers many of the core areas of security and assumes a basic understanding of technology, networks, and security. For those who are brand new to the field and have no background knowledge, SEC301: Intro to Information Security would be the recommended starting point. While SEC301 is not a prerequisite, it provides introductory knowledge that will help maximize a student's experience with ICS410.

  • Electronic Download Package contining ICS cybersecurity related posters, whitepapers, use cases, and cheat sheets
  • A virtual machine of the Control Things Platform, an opensourced, linux-based distribution designed for performing security assessments on ICS systems
  • A virtual machine of Windows 10 for course exercises
  • MP3 audio files of the complete course lecture
  • A hardware PLC for students to use in class and take home with them
  • Better understand various industrial control systems and their purpose, application, function, and dependencies on network IP and industrial communications
  • Work with control network infrastructure design (network architecture concepts, including topology, protocols, and components) and their relation to IEC 62443 and the Purdue Model.
  • Run Windows command line tools to analyze the system looking for high-risk items
  • Run Linux command line tools (ps, ls, netstat, ect) and basic scripting to automate the running of programs to perform continuous monitoring of various tools
  • Work with operating systems (system administration concepts for Unix/Linux and/or Windows operating systems)
  • Better understand the systems' security lifecycle
  • Better understand information assurance principles and tenets (confidentiality, integrity, availability, authentication, non-repudiation)
  • Use your skills in computer network defense (detecting host and network-based intrusions via intrusion detection technologies)
  • Implement incident response and handling methodologies
  • Map different ICS technologies, attacks, and defenses to various cybersecurity standards including NIST Cyber Security Framework, ISA/IEC 62443, ISO/IEC 27001, NIST SP 800-53, Center for Internet Security Critical Security Controls, and COBIT 5

  • Programming a PLC
  • Programming an HMI
  • Architecting a Secure DCS
  • Finding Passwords in Embedded Devices
  • Exploring Fieldbus Protocols
  • Network Capture Analysis
  • Enumerating Modbus TCP
  • Network Forensics of an Attack
  • Bypassing Auth with SQL Injection
  • Password Fuzzing
  • Baselining with PowerShell
  • Configuring Host-Based Firewalls
  • Windows Event Logs
  • Finding Remote Access
  • Incident Response Tabletop Exercise

Courses that lead in to ICS410:

  • SEC301
  • STH Modules
  • STH.Engineer Modules

Courses that are prerequisites:

  • SEC301 is not required, but it is recommended that students either take that course or have a working knowledge of the concepts taught in it.

Courses that are good follow-ups:

Author Statement

Justin Searle

This course provides students with the essentials for conducting cybersecurity work in industrial control system environments. After spending years working with industry, we believe there is a gap in the skill sets of industrial control system personnel, whether it be cybersecurity skills for engineers or engineering principles for cybersecurity experts. In addition, both information technology and operational technology roles have converged in today's industrial control system environments, so there is a greater need than ever for a common understanding between the various groups who support or rely on these systems. Students in ICS410 will learn the language, the underlying theory, and the basic tools for industrial control system security in settings across a wide range of industry sectors and applications.