No Hack at Illinois Water Plant, Feds Insist
The interior of a water-purification facility near Lausanne, Switzerland.
CREDIT: Rama/Creative Commons
Federal authorities said there is no evidence to back widespread reports that hackers caused a pump at a Springfield, Ill., water plant to fail early this month by penetrating the control-system software used to automate the plant's machines.
The Register reported that in an email sent to state, local and industry officials yesterday (Nov. 22), the Department of Homeland Security's Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) and the FBI said they are unable to confirm claims that hackers broke into the Illinois plant's Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software and stole usernames and passwords they used to disable a water pump Nov. 8.
"After detailed analysis, DHS and the FBI have found no evidence of a cyber intrusion into the SCADA system of the Curran-Gardner Public Water District in Springfield, Illinois," the email read. "There is no evidence to support claims made in the initial Fusion Center report which was based on raw, unconfirmed data and subsequently leaked to the media that any credentials were stolen, or that the vendor was involved in any malicious activity that led to a pump failure at the water plant."
The Fusion Center report mentioned in the email refers to the "Public Water District Cyber Intrusion" report released by the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center (STIC). It was on this report that noted SCADA security researcher Joe Weiss based his claims that Russian cybercriminals had been causing the water pump to malfunction for three months. Weiss disclosed details of the report on his blog Nov. 17. The report was not released to the public.
Although federal officials have refuted Weiss' claims, Don Craver, chairman of the Curran-Gardener Water District, told Chicago's ABC 7, "There's some indication there was a breach of some sort into a software program the SCADA system that allows remote access to the wells and the pumps and those sorts of things."