Syrian Electronic Army targets and hacks SCADA systems

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Syrian Electronic Army targets and hacks SCADA systems

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A hacker collective called the ‘Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)’ has gained entry into an important Israeli Internet relay center. Their motivation was the Israeli attack a few days ago which as of Tuesday May 7th, seems to be escalating.

Hacking and take-downs is hardly new news when it comes to conflicts, but what is relatively different with this is the specific attacks on SCADA systems – rather than the usual DoS barrage which becomes a dime a dozen during heightened times. Point in case, look at the North Korean tension which was sky-high only a few days ago. At its’ zenith that particular flare-up by the North was accompanied by a cyber-attack they allegedly initiated – as is evident by their usage of their tried and tested ‘wiper’ attack.

There are many examples (Russia Georgia war, Israeli-Palestine etc) of cyber attacks that accompany military conflicts which G Mark Hardy excellently outlines in his Hacker Hotshot last year.

So what’s different about this cyber attack?
The fact that SCADA and HMI systems were targeted is the key difference here. By attacking SCADA systems SEA claim to have caused, quote: “irrecoverable damages to the Israeli’s infrastructural systems.” Now it’s not completely unusual for SCADA (and if you just stumbled into this post – SCADA means: supervisory control and data acquisition) to be in a hacker’s cross-hairs, rather, the fact that the group has solely focused solely on industrial control systems (ICS) is the differentiator. Industrial control systems, defined as being ‘computer controlled systems that monitor and control industrial processes’ will, and have been, targets for hackers. That will only increase. Furthermore, as we have blogged about extensively (see this category) the majority of SCADA systems are historically vulnerable to attacks.

The systems which the Syrian Electronic Army targeted were industrial complexes, electrical grids, generators, and water and sewage treatment plants.

Our blog post titled: “SCADA security concerns and our training solution” better explains the security position of these systems and also includes our solution! Our solution is what we do best: information security training.

If your reading this post and have SCADA experience we’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts regarding security? What can be done to firm up these systems

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