Hackers with 'Syria Ties' Infiltrate Water Utility’s Control System
According to The Register, a UK-based news site about tech security and related issues, “hackers infiltrated a water utility’s control system and changed the levels of chemicals being used to treat tap water.”
The hackers had “ties to Syria,” and the attack, although the location of the utility has not been revealed and its name has been changed in reports, seems most likely to have taken place in the United States.
This is yet another indication of how determined jihad terrorists are to murder Americans in large numbers.
Revelation of this attack comes from the March 2016 security breach report published by Verizon Security Solutions, which referred to the water plant that was attacked with the alias “Kemuri Water Company (KWC).” It explained how the hackers had been able to burrow deeply and repeatedly inside the workings of the company. They were only stopped from doing massive damage by their ignorance of how water plants actually operated:
Our endpoint forensic analysis revealed a linkage with the recent pattern of unauthorised crossover. Using the same credentials found on the payment app webserver, the threat actors were able to interface with the water district’s valve and flow control application, also running on the AS400 system. We also discovered four separate connections over a 60-day period, leading right up to our assessment.
During these connections, the threat actors modified application settings with little apparent knowledge of how the flow control system worked. In at least two instances, they managed to manipulate the system to alter the amount of chemicals that went into the water supply and thus handicap water treatment and production capabilities so that the recovery time to replenish water supplies increased.
Fortunately, based on alert functionality, KWC was able to quickly identify and reverse the chemical and flow changes, largely minimising the impact on customers. No clear motive for the attack was found.
A likely motive can be easily surmised, however, as The Register report also noted:
“[T]he same hack also resulted in the exposure of personal information of the utility’s 2.5 million customers. There’s no evidence that this has been monetised or used to commit fraud.”
That, along with the manipulation of the chemicals, essentially rules out the possibility that the hackers’ motivation was simple identity theft. These hackers with ties to Syria (possibly implying the Islamic State, which has repeatedly stated its desire to murder American civilians) were likely trying to figure out a way to poison the water supply and kill people in large numbers.
It has long been known that jihadis have considered poisoning the water supply in a major American city:
- As far back as 2002, the feds arrested two jihadis who were carrying plans about how to poison water supplies.
- In May 2013, seven Muslim “chemical engineers” were caught trespassing at the Quabbin Reservoir, a key supply of water for Boston, after midnight. Only months later -- and indirectly -- did the public hear that it was a “criminal matter.” A month later, locks were cut at the aqueduct that supplies water to Greater Boston.
- Also in May 2013, jihadists were caught in Canada who had considered poisoning the air and water to murder up to 100,000 people.
- In October 2013, the FBI was investigating a possible water supply threat in Wichita.
- In January 2014, a Muslim broke into a water treatment plant in New Jersey.