Federal investigators are examining a report that foreign hackers managed to remotely shut down a pump at a central Illinois water plant on November 8. If confirmed, this attack would be the first known foreign cyberattack on an American industrial system.
According to the Washington Post, news of the incident became public after Joe Weiss, an industry security expert, obtained a report dated November 10. This report describes how a series of minor glitches with a water pump gradually escalated to the point where the pump motor was being turned on and off frequently, causing it to burn out.
Apparently the hackers broke into a software company’s database and retrieved user names and passwords of control systems that run water plant computer equipment. Using this data, they were able to hack into the Illinois plant and attack the water pump system.
The United States has been subject to cyberattacks before, but these attacks have usually been attempts to steal information or interrupt the functioning of websites. This attack was unique in that it targeted one of the physical infrastructure systems that supply Americans with water.
The report pinned the damage on somebody using a computer registered to an Internet address in Russia. “This is a big deal,” said Weiss. “It was tracked to Russia. It has been in the system for at least two to three months. It has caused damage. We don’t know how many other utilities are currently compromised.”
Dave Marcus, director of security research for McAfee Labs, commented that the computers that control many critical systems in the United States are vulnerable to attacks that come through the Internet, and few operators of these systems know how to detect or defeat these threats.
An organized cyberattack on America’s industrial systems could easily damage sewage systems, shut down transportation lines, upset communications systems, disrupt the economy, ruin investor confidence and cause massive social chaos.
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry explains in his booklet Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet how Bible prophecy foretells of a time just ahead when violence and burning in the cities will become a common sight in America and its fellow Israelitish nations. A targeted, sustained cyberattack could play a major role in exacerbating this chaos!
For more information on the threat cyberwarfare poses to American national security and how you can escape the consequences, read “America’s Achilles Heel—and Germany” and Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet. ▪