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US public utility organisation hit by cyber-attack

27/05/2014 by

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Just weeks after leaders from many of North America’s leading utility firms said that companies need to do far more to protect themselves from a cyber-attack, it has been revealed that a major public utility firm in the US was the target of a full-force attack earlier this year. Releasing the statement, the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) revealed that it had worked with the firm to resolve the crime and analyse how it had happened, adding that it had also provided the firm with guidance on how to protect itself.

ICS-CERT is part of the US Department for Homeland Security (DoHS) and has just released its update for activity conducted during 2014’s first quarter. In the report it was revealed that the team had worked with a public utility company that had born the brunt of a heavy cyber-attack, helping to analyse the attack type and identify the methods used. As part of the notice, the organisation said: “After notification of the incident, ICS-CERT validated that the software used to administer the control system assets was accessible via internet-facing hosts. The systems were configured with a remote access capability, utilising a simple password mechanism; however, the authentication method was susceptible to compromise via standard brute-force techniques.” ICS-CERT also revealed that previous attack activity had been found upon investigation, showcasing that companies must take their information security measures extremely seriously.

The unnamed utility firm was not the only company to need help from ICS-CERT at the beginning of the year, with the organisation reporting that a Scada system was also infiltrated by a very sophisticated cyber-attack vector. In this case the attack came via an unsecured internet line when the control system happened to be offline for a maintenance check.

Having release its first-quarter statement, ICS-CERT has urged organisations to take the time to get their information security right. It is vital, ICS-SERT says, to recognise the great importance of putting perimeter security tools in place.

Such cybercrimes are normally kept under wraps, with leading organisations not wanting to cause concern. The fact that ICS-CERT has made these attacks public goes to show the increased concern it has about the future of online criminal activities; therefore, all companies, no matter how large or small, must take measures to protect themselves from attack. The consequences can be devastating, particularly for smaller firms, immediately causing trading to cease and, in the worst scenario, causing companies to go bankrupt.

This article has been written by Montash.

Montash is a multi-award winning, global IT recruitment firm. Specialising in permanent and contract positions across mid-senior appointments which cover a wide range of industry sectors and IT functions, including:

ERP, BI & Data, Information Security, IT Architecture & Strategy, Scientific Technologies, Demand IT and Business Engagement, Digital and E-commerce, Infrastructure and Service Delivery, Project and Programme Delivery.

With offices based in London, Montash has completed assignments in over 30 countries and has appointed technical professionals from board level to senior and mid-management in permanent and contract roles.

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