Federal officials have commenced an investigation into reports that a foreign cyber attack was responsible for a water pump in Illinois that was remotely shut down on November 8. If the reports are correct, it would mark the first ever foreign cyber attack on a U.S. industrial or utility system.
According to the initial reports, hackers were able to access the water utility's network in a rural Illinois community. The network was used by the utility to control various industrial systems, and the hackers were apparently able to access the network credentials through the software company used by the utility. It's unclear at this point whether the hackers were able to obtain other data from the software maker or if they are planning other attacks.
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security stated that there currently was no data indicating a threat to pubic safety or to critical infrastructure. Still, the reported attacks highlight the seriousness of cyber attacks to Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition or "SCADA" systems that control critical infrastructure in the U.S. Many of these systems are reportedly old and vulnerable, making them more susceptible to attack.