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Researchers Find Water, Gas Utilities Vulnerable to Hacking Featured Image

Researchers Find Water, Gas Utilities Vulnerable to Hacking

by: Bryon Turcotte  /  January 13, 2014


Researchers at Positive Technologies, the information security firm, discovered vulnerabilities that could let hackers gain access to specialty utility systems in "_many industrial plants_" and maliciously "_shut off water or electricity supplies_, "according to a recent article published by The Telegraph website. The article states that researchers found "_flaws in the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) computer systems_" which are in control of "_major infrastructure, including energy, oil and gas, and transportation_, "according to reports.

This discovery shows, according to the article, "_vulnerabilities in the way that Siemens' WinCC software encrypts and stores passwords in its project database_" leaving attackers to "_gain access to Programmable Logic Controllers_" which are the primary systems that have control over "_machinery and other processes._" Unfortunately, this was not the only issue researchers discovered. The article indicated further that Positive Technologies also reported security vulnerabilities in DAQConnect system – showing that hackers could also access "_other SCADA installations_. " The article was clear to state that "_SCADA systems monitor and control physical industrial processes and are used widely in industry._"

These researchers estimated, according to the report, that Metasploit, a testing software that simulates attacks on computers and networks, can hack into "90 percent of the systems they tested_" and found that "_60,000 industrial control system devices_" are at "_risk of attack_" – stating further that "_many of them were home systems._" Executive Vice President of Positive Technologies, Daniel Tarasov, was quoted in the article to say, "_If hackers were to attack utility companies' SCADA systems, then water and electricity supplies could easily be switched off. If this happens in IT systems, the worst that can happen is your system stops working, but when you're talking about power plants, then your power stops working. Anything that's connected to critical infrastructure is severe. The consequence can be from really small to really huge and catastrophic."

Read more about this research and the grave concern it has prompted throughout many industries here in the full article at the Telegraph website.

Written by Bryon Turcotte  /  January 13, 2014