Friday, November 25, 2011

The FUD: Cyber Attacks on Illinois Water Systems?

US Water System Hacked: A Community-Wide Issue

On November 17th Joe Weiss, a well-known member of the Industrial Control System (ICS) community, posted on his blog about a recent US water system hack.

Joe points out that the disclosure concerning the Nov 8th supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) hack was made by Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center on Nov 10th.

Joe's post stated that the SCADA software vendor was compromised and that customer usernames and passwords were stolen as well as possible physical damage to the utility. He further states that the IP address of the attacker traced back to Russia, which does not provide any attribution but is nevertheless interesting.

The compromise of a US water facility should be concerning for a number of reasons. Firstly, the idea of anyone or any group (nation state or not) breaking into SCADA and control systems in the US highlights a weakness in our nation's infrastructure.

What is hard to discern though is how many attacks are prevented on a daily basis by the men and women taking up the very difficult challenge of cyber defense. Regardless though, this is a fight that must continue to get support and attention in the cyber community.

Secondly, a water facility has a direct impact over the health of the citizens that it provides. A compromise of such a facility, depending on the scale of the compromise, could reasonably lead to the loss of life. This is to say that the concern for security of the ICS and SCADA community is not and cannot simply be financial.

The reported attack against this water SCADA system, although it is in no way possible to determine at this time, could be this style of attack. This is important to think about in regards to what future attacks may hold, what the motives for the attacks are, and what attacks may currently be going unnoticed.

Please refer here to read more interesting analysis.

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