ICS Advisory (ICSA-21-042-02)

Rockwell Automation DriveTools SP and Drives AOP

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  • CVSS v3 7.5
  • Vendor: Rockwell Automation
  • Equipment: DriveTools SP and Drives AOP
  • Vulnerability: Uncontrolled Search Path Element


Successful exploitation of this vulnerability may result in privilege escalation and total loss of device confidentiality, integrity, and availability.



Rockwell Automation reports the vulnerability affects the following products: 

  • DriveTools SP v5.13 and below 
    • DriveExecutive v5.13 and below 
  • Drives AOP v4.12 and below (supports Logix Versions v16-v30) 



DriveTools and Drives AOP both contain a vulnerability that a local attacker with limited privileges may be able to exploit resulting in privilege escalation and complete control of the system. 

CVE-2021-22665 has been assigned to this vulnerability. A CVSS v3 base score of 7.5 has been calculated; the CVSS vector string is (AV:L/AC:H/PR:L/UI:R/S:C/C:H/I:H/A:H).


  • CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE SECTORS: Food and Agriculture, Transportation Systems, Water and Wastewater Systems


Claroty and Cognite reported this vulnerability to Rockwell Automation.


Rockwell Automation recommends users apply the latest update: 

  • DriveTools SP v5.14.41 or later
  • Drives AOP v4.13.41 or later

Rockwell Automation recommends the following software/PC-based mitigation strategies when running the affected products on a PC:

  • Run all software as user, not as an administrator, to minimize the impact of malicious code on the infected system.
  • Use of Microsoft AppLocker or other similar allow list application can help mitigate risk. Information on using AppLocker with Rockwell Automation products is available at Knowledgebase Article ID 546989
  • Ensure the least-privilege user principle is followed, and user/service account access to shared resources (such as a database) is only granted with a minimum number of rights as needed.

Rockwell Automation recommends the following general mitigations:

  • Use trusted software, software patches, antivirus/antimalware programs and interact only with trusted websites and attachments.
  • Minimize network exposure for all control system devices and/or systems and ensure that they are not accessible from the Internet. For further information about the risks of unprotected Internet accessible control systems, please see Knowledgebase Article ID PN715
  • Locate control system networks and devices behind firewalls and isolate them from the business network.
  • When remote access is required, use secure methods, such as virtual private networks (VPNs), recognizing that VPNs may have vulnerabilities and should be updated to the most current version available. Also recognize that VPN is only as secure as the connected devices.

Please see more information on this issue in the Rockwell Automation industrial security advisory titled Writable Path Directory in DriveTools SP and Drives AOP.

CISA recommends users take the following measures to protect themselves from social engineering attacks: 

CISA reminds organizations to perform proper impact analysis and risk assessment prior to deploying defensive measures.

CISA also provides a section for control systems security recommended practices on the ICS webpage on us-cert.cisa.gov. Several recommended practices are available for reading and download, including Improving Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity with Defense-in-Depth Strategies.

Additional mitigation guidance and recommended practices are publicly available on the ICS webpage on us-cert.cisa.gov in the Technical Information Paper, ICS-TIP-12-146-01B--Targeted Cyber Intrusion Detection and Mitigation Strategies.

Organizations observing any suspected malicious activity should follow their established internal procedures and report their findings to CISA for tracking and correlation against other incidents.

No known public exploits specifically target this vulnerability. This vulnerability is not exploitable remotely. High skill level is needed to exploit.

Contact Information

For any questions related to this report, please contact the CISA at:

Email: CISAservicedesk@cisa.dhs.gov
Toll Free: 1-888-282-0870

For industrial control systems cybersecurity information:  https://us-cert.cisa.gov/ics 
or incident reporting:  https://us-cert.cisa.gov/report

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