clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Hackers attack Illinois water plant

New, 17 comments

The control system of a water plant in Springfield, Illinois has been hacked, causing some damage to a water pump. A report claims that the hack originated from Russia, and the this marks the first hack of a SCADA system in the United States.

Water Plant Hack
Water Plant Hack

The control system at a Springfield, IL water system was hacked last week, according to a report from security expert Joe Weiss. Privy to a report concerning the attack, Weiss wrote in a blog post that the malicious code had been in the computer systems that control the water plant for at least two or three months. Plant workers noticed the equipment was acting up, and that it has recently been abnormally cycling on and off — causing a water pump to burn out. A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security confirmed damage at the facility, but the DHS and FBI say that they haven't yet confirmed a hack was the source of the failure — adding that there's nothing to confirm a "threat to public safety."

Weiss said the hackers pulled usernames and passwords from the software vendor of the plant's control software, known as a SCADA system. Once the hackers gained access, they were able to exploit the computer systems to damage equipment. Weiss also claims that the hack originated from a computer in Russia. According to Wired, the attack marks the first exploitation of a SCADA system in the United States, and the first such attack since the Stuxnet virus in Iran last year. The hack raises quite a few concerns — depending on which SCADA vendor was compromised, the hackers may have access to more critical utilities as well.