Russian Hackers Breach Central Illinois Water System

Water Pipe

Photo: A51 Integrated

Russian Hackers are alleged to have burned out and destroyed a pump needed to carry water to thousands of homes in Springfield, Illinois.The BBC reports Homeland Security and the FBI are investigating the November 8 incident as details emerge on a possible second, separate, attack.

The attack was first published on Joe Weiss’ blog where he advsies utility companies on how best to protect against cyber attacks.

Weiss quoted a report by the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence centre that said hackers pulled off the attack using stolen usernames and passwords.

Once they had access hackers allegedly turned the pump on and off repeatedly until it failed.

Though alternate pumps kickedin to deliver the water and no customers lost service, the implications for utilities and US infrastructure are huge, according to Government Technology.

From Government Technology:

The potential ramifications of having a confirmed (successful) cyber attack against (any) critical infrastructure are enormous. Besides the implications for our water, there are fears of attack against transportation, electricity or other important infrastructure sectors. Yes, each sector has plans for defence.  

There are vulnerable critical infrastructure components, and there are many programs that attempt to protect these systems from a cyber or other attack.  NERC and other organisations have spent millions of dollars to start building the smart grid, which may also be susceptible to a cyber attack. If this failure is confirmed as a cyber attack, the sense of urgency will only increase. Many experts believe that a 21st Century “cyber war” is coming and will be like the previous “cold war” of the 20th Century.

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