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SCADA hack shut down a US water plant

Attacker got logins and took control
Mon Nov 21 2011, 09:37

A HACKING ATTACK at a US water plant has been credited to an unknown attacker who managed to access a SCADA controller and take over systems.

According to a report at our IT news sister site, the hacker used the compromised SCADA system to turn a pump off and on again several times before causing it to fail.

This happened on 8 November and has once again caused security experts to question the security of SCADA systems.

Andrew Brandt, director of research for Solera Networks Research Labs, told V3 that German engineering conglomerate Siemens' SCADA system is something of a honey pot for hackers and that once inside it they would find a "soft centre" that let them easily take control.

"For the most part they are not necessarily designed to be connected to the internet, but engineers can put in workarounds for remote access. Anytime you do this you put in a pathway where someone can get in," he said.

"Attacks are getting targeted at these edge-case machines where they want to steal something specific," he said, "and it is that specificity which to me gets scary."

Researchers have traced the system used in the attack on the Illinois water plant to Russia, but Brandt said that the attacker could be using a proxy.

No serious damage resulted from the attack. µ


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