Iranian Hackers Target US Pennsylvania Water System

cyber attack

Iranian hackers struck the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa in western Pennsylvania through exploitation of Unitronics programmable logic controllers. The cyber group known as “Cyber Av3ngers” took control of one of the stations.Israe

Matthew Mottes, the chairman of the board of directors for the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa confirmed the incident. He said the station monitors and regulates pressure for Raccoon and Potter Townships. The cyber attack didn’t affect drinking water or the water supply.

The executive explained that Unitronics is a system that the machine uses, it’s software that’s Israeli-owned. This system has now been disabled and a criminal investigation is underway. The Cyber Av3ngers attack everything Israel. It’s on-screen message stated “Every equipment ‘Made in Israel’ is Cyber Av3ngers legal target”.

System Offline

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) highlighted that cyber threat actors are targeting PLCs associated with Water and Wastewater Systems facilities, including an identified Unitronics PLC, at a US water facility. “In response, the affected municipality’s water authority immediately took the system offline and switched to manual operations – there is no known risk to the municipality’s drinking water or water supply.”

To counter such cyber attacks, the CISA recommended organizations to change the Unitronics PLC default password, enforce multi-factor authentication, disconnect the PLC from the internet, back up the logic and configurations on any Unitronics PLCs to enable fast recovery, as well as apply latest updates.

The Unitronics Vision system is a programmable logic controller with an integrated human machine interface (HMI); Unitronics Vision products are vulnerable and easily expose devices to attacks. The HMIs are left exposed to the internet and are accessible without authentication – as such easily targeted.

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Unacceptable Attacks on Water System

Congressman Chris Deluzio said attacks on critical infrastructure like water are unacceptable. “I intend to push for a full investigation here and accountability for the attackers, and I will continue the important bipartisan work on the House Armed Services Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation (CITI) Subcommittee to shore up America’s defenses.

Max Kilger, a cyber security expert, described the incident as very direct attack. “It’s using the internet as a weapon. The attack in Pennsylvania thankfully did not impact more critical components that determine the amount of chemicals added to the water supply.”



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