Hackers targeted ICS/SCADA systems at water facilities, Israeli government warns

Pierluigi Paganini April 27, 2020

The Israeli authorities are alerting organizations in the water industry following a series of cyberattacks that hit water facilities in the country.

The Israeli government has issued an alert to organizations in the water sector following a series of cyberattacks that targeted the water facilities.

Israel’s National Cyber Directorate announced to have received reports of cyber attacks aimed at supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems at wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations and sewage facilities.

“As of this morning, reports have been received in the National Cyber ​​Arrangement about assault attempts on control and control systems of wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations and sewers.” reads the alert issued by the Israeli government. “The system calls on companies and entities in the energy and water sectors to immediately exchange passwords from the Internet to the control systems, reduce Internet connectivity and ensure that the most up-to-date version of controllers is installed.”

Organizations are recommended to implement supplementary security measures to protect SCADA systems used in the water and energy sectors. The government urges to immediately change the passwords of control systems exposed online, ensure that their software is up to date, and reduce their exposure online.

The good news is that according to the report from the Israel’s Water Authority, the attacks did not impact operations at the facilities.

Government worldwide are warning of hackers targeting water utilities and urge the operators to secure industrial control systems (ICS).

In January the Israeli Public Utility Authority suffered one of the largest cyber attack that the country has experienced, Minister of Infrastructure, Energy and Water Yuval Steinitz said on Tuesday.

In March 2016, the Verizon breach digest reported a number of cyber attacks including one against an unnamed water utility, described in the document as the Kemuri Water Company (KWC).

The operator behind the water utility hired Verizon to assess its systems, during the investigation the experts discovered evidence of cyber attacks.

The experts discovered a desolating situation, a number of systems affected by critical vulnerabilities were publicly exposed on the Internet and the overall architecture was including outdated operation technology (OT) systems.

Experts discovered that the KWC facility was targeted by hacktivists had that breached the internal architecture by exploiting a vulnerability in the payment application web server.

In 2016, BWL Electric and Water Utility shut down following a ransomware attack.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – water facilities, hacking)

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