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Monday, 21 November 2011 13:46

Hackers take out Illinois water pump

Written by Nick Farell



Could be the first foreign attack on a US utility


The Untouchables are looking into a report that hackers shut down a utility's water pump in central Illinois last week. It it all stacks up, it could be the first known foreign cyber attack on a US industrial system.

The attack was described in a report from the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Centre which fell into the paws of Joe Weiss, a prominent expert on protecting infrastructure from cyber attacks. Apparently attackers obtained access to the network of a water utility in a rural community west of the state capital Springfield.

It used information nicked from a company that makes software used to control industrial systems. The same group may have attacked other industrial targets or be planning strikes using credentials stolen from the same software maker. The attack burnted out a pump but no one lost water.  Local council workers are mystified why it targeted the pump which serves a region of 2,000, nor is there any indication where the attack came from or if it really was a foreign power.

Nick Farell

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