April 24, 2024
  • US authorities warn state governors that foreign hackers might be planning to take down their state’s water and sewage systems
  • The threat actors have been identified as a hacker group working with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and China’s state-backed hacker group called Volt Typhoon

Guess What Hackers Are Targeting Now – Water Systems

The US government recently discovered that hackers are now targeting water and sewage tank systems. State governments have already been warned about this.

The news came on Tuesday through a joint letter by National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Michael Regan, that talked about the impending danger of cyberattacks on crucial public infrastructure.

These attacks have the potential to disrupt the critical lifeline of clean and safe drinking water, as well as impose significant costs on affected communities.Joint Letter

It’s hard to say when these attacks might happen or who will get hit first. It’s believed that the hackers are laying down the attack framework in advance so that if there’s a conflict in the future – political or military – they can quickly strike and weaken the US.

Hence, the letter recommends that all state governors run a quick digital assessment of their water and sewage systems and prepare to defend.

This is a pressing issue since water systems are a critical part of everyday life. In the past, when government websites were attacked and had to be taken down for weeks, it was hard but still manageable. But having a state’s water facility down for a week will wreak havoc.

Another reason why water facilities are a lucrative target is because they are much easier to take down. Unlike government sites and military assets, they are not well-protected.

Investigations have revealed that most of the systems have limited technical capacity and inferior security resources which is evident from the fact that a few water facilities across the country have already been hit in the past.

The government has assured that they are trying to amp up security but in the face of this impending danger, it might be best to hurry up.

Read more: Chicago children’s hospital systems shut down for a week following cyberattack

Who Could Be Behind These Attacks?

The letter points fingers at two hacker groups from Iran and China. In the recent past, relationships between the US and Iran & China have strained owing to the increasing number of cyber attacks backed by these countries. This case is no different.

An industry group called the Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center also said that they are afraid it won’t be a one-time attack.

Talking about the attackers, Sullivan and Regan mentioned a recent case in which a hacker group that allegedly worked for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards attacked and disabled a controller that was used to regulate the water facility in Pennsylvania.

What makes this incident even more scary is that the attackers had the audacity to leave a “YOU HAVE BEEN HACKED” message on the compromised controller.

Although there was no long-term damage to the water system and the authorities were able to revive it, the incident gave us a glimpse of what these hackers are capable of.

Similarly, a China-based hacker group called “Volt Typhoon” has already been found guilty of hacking and disrupting many critical public infrastructures including drinking water in many of the states.

Neither China nor Iran has commented on these allegations yet. It’s not really a surprise considering that even in the past, these countries have openly denied carrying out cyber attacks against the US when there is countless evidence for each accusation.

Read more: Maintaining data security amidst rising concerns of cyberattacks

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