Water utility suffers cyber incident

A water utility reported a cyber incident when remote users experienced difficulties logging into the control systems, according to an ICS-CERT report.


A water utility reported a cyber incident when remote users experienced difficulties logging into the control systems, according to an ICS-CERT report.

Offsite and onsite analyses revealed the cause of the incident was general crimeware and was not a targeted attack, ICS-CERT said. The utility’s control systems did not suffer any repercussions as a result of the incident. ICS-CERT did not name the utility.

As a result of the event, ICS-CERT coordinated with the FBI, state, and local law enforcement during and after the incident.

While onsite, ICS-CERT reviewed network topologies and control systems architecture and evaluated the water utility’s current security and detection measures.

They also provided mitigations and made recommendations for strengthening the existing cyber security and incident detection mechanisms. The water utility has since sanitized its systems and implemented stronger and tighter security practices.

Some of the general lessons learned include:

  • Secure remote access with VPNs or two-factor authentication. For more information about configuring and managing remote access, review Configuring and Managing Remote Access for industrial Control Systems.
  • Prepare for incidents with a formalized incident response plan. Enable logging and leverage the static nature of a control system to look for anomalies. Retain logs for a sufficient amount of time.
  • Understand how to preserve forensic data for analysis and reporting when an incident occurs. Capture forensic images of the system memory and hard drive prior to powering down the system. Also, avoid running antivirus software “after the fact” as the AV scan changes critical file dates and impedes discovery and analysis of suspected malicious files and timelines.

Understand, even with the best cyber defense mechanisms in place, incidents will likely occur.

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Choosing controllers: PLCs, PACs, IPCs, DCS? What's best for your application?; Wireless trends; Design, integration; Manufacturing Day; Product Exclusive
Variable speed drives: Smooth, efficient, electrically quite motion control; Process control upgrades; Mobile intelligence; Product finalists: Vote now; Product Exclusives
Machine design tips: Pneumatic or electric; Software upgrades; Ethernet advantages; Additive manufacturing; Engineering Leaders; Product exclusives: PLC, HMI, IO
This article collection contains the 5 most referenced articles on improving the use of PID.
Learn how Industry 4.0 adds supply chain efficiency, optimizes pricing, improves quality, and more.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security