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Attacks/Breaches

11/22/2011
09:03 PM
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DHS, FBI: No Evidence Of Hacking At Water Utility

No evidence of stolen credentials or malicious activity in Illinois water utility pump crash, feds say

In a surprising twist, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's ICS-CERT has concluded that the Illinois public water facility was not compromised by hackers after all.

Reports that a SCADA system at the Curran-Gardner Public Water District in Springfield, Ill., had been hacked surfaced late last week after a report written by the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center -- also known as the Fusion Center -- was leaked in the media.

The water utility suffered a pump failure, and the report said the utility had its usernames and passwords stolen. The pump had been turning on and off and eventually shut down, fueling concerns of a remote attack using the stolen credentials. Speculation ran high that the incident might represent the first real attack on the U.S. critical infrastructure.

But not so, according to the latest word from federal officials. "There is no evidence to support claims made in the initial Fusion Center report - which was based on raw, unconfirmed data and subsequently leaked to the media - that any credentials were stolen, or that the vendor was involved in any malicious activity that led to a pump failure at the water plant," according to an email from ICS-CERT to one of its working groups.

Jeffrey Carr, founder and CEO of Taia Global, said today in a post that early reports of a cyberattack were premature. "It appears to be a case of jumping too quickly to a conclusion with little to no corroborating evidence," he said.

ICS-CERT went on to dismiss reports that the incident was connected to a nation-state attacker. "In addition, DHS and FBI have concluded that there was no malicious traffic from Russia or any foreign entities, as previously reported," the email said. "Analysis of the incident is ongoing and additional relevant information will be released as it becomes available."

Meanwhile, officials confirmed that they are also investigating a separate water utility attack. A hacker who goes by " pr0f" claims to have breached an industrial control system in Texas.

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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