Cyber Threats Against Water Utilities Raise Concerns

Cyber Threats Against Water Utilities Raise Concerns

( – US officials are pushing for an overhaul of the nation’s cybersecurity efforts over concerns of water utility facilities being infiltrated by malicious hackers, according to Fox News.

The federal government is blaming terrorist groups linked to Iran for infiltrating the computer systems of several water utility providers throughout the US. They have specifically drawn attention to equipment that was likely targeted for being made in Israel.

The hackers aren’t just focusing their efforts on big cities and population centers. One of the latest attacks targeted Aliquippa, a water authority in a small Pennsylvanian community. The attack, which left a concerning message on computer screens, triggered an alarm that caused workers to immediately shut down the system. Its defenses were lackluster due the area’s small population. However, the water’s quality was not impacted by the attack.

Authorities are now warning that any water authority could be a target regardless of its community’s size or seeming obscurity. Cyberattacks could give terrorists the ability to disable pumps and reprogram chemical treatment levels if left unchecked. That could prove dangerous for unsuspecting communities.

Experts have identified tens of thousands of water authorities across the US that are likely unprepared for a cyberattack. Most of those areas have limited or no cybersecurity experts. They also warn that much of their equipment is underfunded.

Utilities in the US have been increasingly targeted by foreign hackers in recent years. Large cities with robust infrastructure, including Los Angeles and Portland, have seen their utility providers fall victim. Some hackers have also targeted food-processing plants.

Experts have warned that utilities are a prime target for hostile foreign groups. Many of them are still relatively easy to access and can have devastating consequences in the event of a conflict. There is also a growing number of international hacker groups who will contract with hostile nations who want to keep their operations hidden from US intelligence officials. This could make pinpointing the responsible party of a devastating cyber-attack nearly impossible.

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