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Hackers Traced to Russia Attack, Disable Illinois Water Control System

John on November 21, 2011 at 10:35 am

From the BBC though the story was actually brought to attention by a blogger:

Hackers are alleged to have destroyed a pump used to pipe water to thousands of homes in a US city in Illinois.

Hackers with access to the utility’s network are thought to have broken the pump by turning it on and off quickly.

The FBI and Department for Homeland Security (DHS) are investigating the incident as details emerge of what could be a separate second attack.

Experts said the news revealed a growing interest in critical infrastructure by cyber criminals.

Information about the 8 November incident came to light via the blog of Joe Weiss who advises utilities on how to protect hardware against attack.

Mr Weiss quoted from a short report by the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center which said hackers obtained access using stolen login names and passwords. These were taken from a company which writes control software for industrial systems.

The net address through which the attack was carried out was traced to Russia, according to Mr Weiss. The report said “glitches” in the remote access system for the pump had been noticed for months before the burn out, said Mr Weiss.

Obviously one attack on a pump isn’t the end of the world, but it could represent a proof of concept. If they can do this once, they can probably do it again (indeed a second attack is already suspected).

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