Water utilities hacked … another SCADA system attack

Pierluigi Paganini November 24, 2011

The SCADA systems at the Water utilities in Illinois were hacked by a malicious attacker.

“the SCADA system was powered on and off, burning out a water pump.”

This is what the hacker has posted  giving proof of a direct compromise of the SCADA systems at this water utility confirming that there was actual damage.  Hacker obtained remote access into the control system of the Springfield water utility and have destroyed a pump. An employee of the utility has noted on November, 8th that there was a problems to the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System (SCADA) that it was turning on and off, resulting in the burnout of a water pump.

Here you are the SCADA Hacking, Water Metering Utility config file.

Forensic evidence indicates that the hackers may have been in the system as early as September, according to the “Public Water District Cyber Intrusion” report, released by the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center on Nov. 10.

Hackers have moved the attack from Russia accessing into the network of a software vendor that makes the SCADA system, the same used by the utility. The intruders stole usernames and passwords used by the vendor for its customers and launched the final attack to the utility. That is a big problem because there is the possibility that other utilities may be attacked.

Several vendors use remote access to provide maintenance services and upgrades to their systems but this process could be explit by hackers to perform attack. Of course this communication channel must be protected and monitored in the right way, noting every strange behaviour that could indicate intruder’s actions.

My main concern is the management of information relating to the accident, at least until the risks have been brokered by performing the actions necessary to secure the objectives. There is the risk to observe serial attacks that exploit the same vulnerability and operating substantially in the same way.  The event represents an important precedent, it is the demonstration of how an attack can be brought to a critical structure from outside the country and forcefully recalls the much-discussed issue in Cyber Defence.





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