The Feds are investigating what could be the first known foreign cyber-attack on a U.S. industrial system after a report that foreign hackers managed to remotely shut down a utility’s water pump in central Illinois last week. According to reports, the attackers obtained access to the network of a water utility west of Springfield, IL with credentials stolen from a company that makes software used to control industrial systems.
Those credentials could allow the hackers to attack other systems supplied by the same company.
This attack illustrates the threat from cyber attacks to Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. They are highly specialized computer systems that control critical infrastructure — from water treatment facilities, chemicals plants and nuclear reactors to gas pipelines, dams and switches on train lines.
Some reports indicate that the attack was Russian in origin, but nothing has been confirmed.