Public utility compromised after brute-force attack, DHS says
The utility, which was not identified, had been compromised before
IDG News Service - A public utility in the U.S. was compromised after attackers took advantage of a weak password security system, according to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security team that studies cyberattacks against critical infrastructure.
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 utility, which was not identified, was vulnerable to a brute-force attack, where hackers try different combinations of passwords until the right one is found. An investigation showed the utility was attacked 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 has long warned that critical infrastructure such as power and water plants are at risk of cyberattack, as many of their IT systems have not been rigorously audited for vulnerabilities and configuration mistakes.
ICS-CERT warned that 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 cyberattack but did not specify what type of organization was affected.
In that instance, an Internet-connected control system that operated a mechanical device was accessed by an attacker using a cellular modem. The access has been gained using a SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) protocol, the team wrote.
"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 just the wrong moment. The mechanical device happened to be disconnected from the control system for scheduled maintenance, the team wrote.
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 cyberdefenses, the report said.
Send news tips and comments to email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk
- Platfora Big Data Analytics for Network Security Platfora amplifies the effectiveness of network security analysis, providing Big Data Analytics capability to augment existing security infrastructure for known threats, and advanced...
- 7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration OS migration is typically time-consuming and expensive. To make your next migration easy, follow these six recommendations when planning your project.
- A Survival Guide for Data in the Wild All corporate data used to reside in the data center. Safe and sound behind the corporate firewall. But now, employees have multiple devices...
Gartner Critical Capabilities for Enterprise Endpoint Backup
With this complimentary report you can:
- Discover the critical product capabilities that matter
- Learn about the unique backup needs of the mobile and...
- Keep Servers Up and Running and Attackers in the Dark An SSL/TLS handshake requires at least 10 times more processing power on a server than on the client. SSL renegotiation attacks can readily...
- On Demand: Mastering the Art of Mobile Content Management Mobile device usage in the enterprise has skyrocketed, and it continues to escalate. IT must answer to users who demand access to their... All Cyberwarfare White Papers | Webcasts