In Springfield, Illinois, hackers recently were able to work their way into the city’s computer system and manipulate the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System (SCADA). The virus the hackers uploaded was able to continually turn the water pump on and off. It was this continuation that caused the actual pumps in the water pump to burn out.
This prank turned into a very destructive, and costly problem for the city of Springfield, which is now required to not only replace the burnt out pump, but also update their security measures on the system network, in order to prevent these hackers, or new hackers, from accessing the information again and performing the same feat.
Individuals were able to hack into the system using stolen usernames and passwords. Because of this, all usernames and passwords must be recreated, as it is not yet known how many were initially stolen at the time. The hackers were then able to find small glitches in the system, which allowed them to manipulate the way the water pump functioned, which in turn resulted in the water pump burning out.
The water pump supplies water to over 2,000 different residents in and around the city, all of whom are without water until the pump is replaced. This is the top priority at the moment, as individuals must have running water in order to function. During this process, local authorities are checking to see how the hackers were able to access the crucial information, and hopefully prevent it from happening again.
Thankfully, the incident was isolated to a single water pump. However, the rest of the server is at risk of being hacked again, and possibly resulting in further issues with the water and even power grid, as City Water, Light and Power supplies the utility services to a majority of the locals in the area.
In order to prevent this from occurring in a widespread method, the server and everything else relating to the service must be completely rewritten, otherwise the hackers are going to have an easy time performing the same task over.
This is the first major hack in an industrial system that has occurred since a computer virus was uploaded to the utility system in Iran earlier this year. With the recent increase in attacks on public service systems, there is a potential other utility services might be hit again.