Industrial cyber security is critical for operations, such as water and wastewater, that have a wide-spread impact on public safety. While there has been a general rise in ransomware attacks recently, there are options available for wastewater facilities that secure networks and, ultimately, protect the public.
In an effort to educate industrial companies about how to prevent a cyber attack, we created a series that examines breaches across different industries, the consequences of the breach, and how AutomaTech offerings could have helped.
What Happened: In late April, Israel’s National Cyber Directorate announced there had been attempted cyber attacks on command and control systems for the nation’s wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations and, sewage.
The apparent goal for this attack was to raise the chlorine level in the water supply.
How It Happened: Experts believe the attempted attack was a coordinated effort to raise the chlorine levels released into the water while simultaneously sending operators a signal that the chlorine levels were correct.
This means the attack was specifically designed to hide the danger from the control room operators.
Water treatment plants, even in America, are generally considered underprepared against cyber threats, which means few have the tools to detect an attack. This also makes them ideal targets for attackers looking to test methods – essentially using the low level of security of water treatment facilities as a way to “practice” or sell the information for gain. In fact, a water utility facility in Fort Collins, Colorado, has also been hit with ransomware on multiple occasions.
What Were the Aftereffects: While the attempts were unsuccessful, the directorate warned water companies to change their passwords, ensure control system software was updated and take other cyber security measures. If they had been successful, attackers could have caused mild poisoning of the local population.
Israel’s water supply was hit with two more cyber attack attempts in the following months – one on an agricultural water pump – but no serious harm was done.
What Would Have Helped: Bayshore NetWall unidirectional security gateway for IT and OT is a high-speed, hardware and software solution that enforces data replication in only one direction. That means it creates a secure network – shielding and isolating critical assets and sensitive networks from cyber attack and misuse.