The Department of Homeland security confirmed Tuesday, an ongoing series of coordinated cyberattacks against the U.S. targeting critical infrastructure going as far back as December. The major targets in these attacks have been those in the natural gas-pipeline industry, who were infiltrated by attackers gathering sensitive information and even subverting industrial control systems. The attack has startled security experts who have expressed significant concerns since hearing the news.
Joe Weiss, managing partner for the security firm Applied Control Solutions, told AFP that the latest attacks highlight the vulnerability of so-called critical infrastructure systems.
He said control systems vulnerabilities can be found in the electrical grid, water utilities and others as well as pipeline operators.
"Once you get to those systems, really bad things happen," he said. "That's where people die."
But tracking the attacks can be difficult because of a lack of forensics, Weiss said.
"You have your usual list of suspects, nation-states like Iran, radical Muslims, a bunch of radical organizations in the states who don't like anyone they feel is not environmentally friendly," he told AFP
"But you also now have cyber exploit code on the Web for free that any number of people can get to."
The Department of Homeland Security's investigative division, the ICS-CERT, has taken an unusual step in issuing an alert and speaking publicly about the incident as a means to heighten awareness of the dangerous situation. Kevin Hemsley, a leader in the ICS-CERT, told PC World that a "sophisticated threat actor" is going after pipeline operators, mostly through spear-phishing, and has in some cases been able to compromise them. Hemsley has not discounted whether the "threat actor" yet to be identified could be a nation-state.
Will Cain broke down the case on "Real News" Wednesday, and former Executive Assistant Director of the FBI Shawn Henry joined the panel to discuss what damage a cyberattack like this could have on our way of live.