Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) ALERT

Are you ready for the DCOM hardening update?

On June 14, 2022, Microsoft releases the second of three DCOM hardening updates. OT network communications will likely be impacted because this update enables the hardening changes by default.

DCOM Introduction

DCOM LSI Listens

DCOM was introduced into the Microsoft world many years ago. It was a game-changer, allowing applications on separate computers to pass data back and forth across the network. Over the years, thousands of software and instrument vendors have used it to send data through the industrial network to HMIs, Historians, and the like. But today, we live in a world of computer viruses and Cyber-attackers. Unfortunately, DCOM is far from secure.

Potential for Broken Communications

Microsoft wants to help you maintain a secure system by hardening DCOM. On June 14th, the update will enable that hardening and likely break most communications based on DCOM, such as OPC-DA.

Steps to Maintain Communications

If you rely on OPC-DA to send data from client to server, etc., you must take one of the following steps to maintain communications:

  1. Contact your software vendor. They may have a patch to mitigate the hardening disruption. If so, apply that patch. (see links below)
  2. Upgrade your protocol to OPC-UA. UA does not rely on DCOM, so it will not be affected.
  3. Install a “Tunneller.” OPC Tunnellers convert the protocol to a more secure protocol before it leaves the machine, allowing communications to continue.
  4. Disable the Hardening within the update via a registry entry. (This will work until March of 2023. At that point, Microsoft makes Hardening mandatory)

The Risk of Doing Nothing

You may be saying, “I just won’t install the update!” That will work for now, but you won’t be taking advantage of other security updates that your IT department may require.

We realize that not all plant floor computers are updated regularly, and some are even running old operating systems that will not even feel an impact from this latest security update.

What are Software Vendors Doing?

We recommend you contact your software provider for information on their specific applications and what they recommend to resolve the challenges created by the “hardening” update. If you need help evaluating your environment for impact and preparing for the March 2023 deadline, let’s talk—LSI Listens. Contact LSI or call 877-735-6905.

Vendor Information

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