U.S. public utility suffers a compromise
The unidentified utility was vulnerable to a brute-force cyber security attack, where hackers try different combinations of passwords until they find the right one.
A public utility in the U.S. suffered a compromise after attackers took advantage of a weak password security system.
The utility's control system was accessible via Internet-facing hosts and used a simple password system, wrote the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) in a report on incidents covering the first quarter of this year.
The unidentified utility was vulnerable to a brute-force attack, where hackers try different combinations of passwords until they find the right one. An investigation showed the utility suffered an attack before.
"It was determined that the systems were likely exposed to numerous security threats, and previous intrusion activity was also identified," ICS-CERT wrote in the report.
The U.S. government continues to warn critical infrastructure players like power and water plants they remain at risk of cyber attack, as many of their IT systems have not undergone an audit for vulnerabilities and configuration mistakes.
ICS-CERT warned it is easy for hackers using search engines such as Google and SHODAN to find Internet-connected control systems "that were not intended to be Internet facing."
The report described a second cyber attack, but did not give further details.
"In that instance, an Internet-connected control system that operated a mechanical device ended up accessed by an attacker using a cellular modem. The access was through a SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) protocol," ICS-CERT said.
"The device was directly Internet accessible and was not protected by a firewall or authentication access controls," ICS-CERT wrote.
The attacker appears to have struck at the wrong time as the device was undergoing scheduled maintenance and ended up disconnected from the control system.
"In the first quarter of this year, ICS-CERT advised 20 energy, water, nuclear and transportation utilities on identifying vulnerabilities and how to improve their cyber defenses," the report said.
Gregory Hale is the editor and founder of Industrial Safety and Security Source (ISSSource.com), a news and information website covering safety and security issues in the manufacturing automation sector. This content originally appeared here. Edited by Brittany Merchut, Project Manager, CFE Media, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Events & Awards
- Magazine Archives
- Oil & Gas Engineering
- Salary Survey
- Digital Reports
- Survey Prize Winners
Annual Salary Survey
Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey