Hackers Attack Israel’s Water Infrastructure

The Israeli government says that hackers have targeted its water supply and treatment facilities and has issued an alert to all organisations in the water sector following a series of cyber-attacks aimed at water facilities. 

According to news published by Israel’s National Cyber Directorate, the attacks targeted supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems at wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations and sewage facilities.

In a security alert sent by the Israeli National Cyber-Directorate (INCD), the agency is urging personnel at companies active in the energy and water sectors to change passwords for all internet-connected systems. If passwords can't be changed, the agency recommended taking systems offline until proper security systems can be put in place.

The Israeli government has issued these alerts in an attempt to improve the cyber-security posture of its industrial infrastructure, but also after it received a report from cyber-security firm ClearSky. The company is said to have identified an Islamic hacktivist group active on social media. Named the Jerusalem Electronic Army, the group has a presence on all major social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Telegram, where it often posts screenshots from targets they claim to have hacked.

On some of these sites, the group has claimed to have gained access to various Israeli universities and government systems.

Organisations in the water and energy sectors have been advised to immediately change the passwords of internet-accessible control systems, reduce internet exposure, and ensure that all control system software is up to date.
There are a number of potential options for this initial access breach. 

Most local water supply and waste-water facilities are small sites and most of them are connected via cellular-based communication to the Internet for maintenance and other purposes. These cellular routers are rarely hardened in terms of password control, disabling unsecure management interfaces and facing public IP address. So, it is believed that that cyber-criminal activity had been conducted remotely by scanning for known vulnerabilities, open ports, and exploiting weak or default passwords.

According to local media reports, the attacks targeted facilities across the country and Israel’s Water Authority claimed the attacks did not cause any operational damage. Organisations have been advised to immediately report incidents that result in disruption. 

Hackers targeting water and other vital utilities is a rel threat and experts have issued warnings that internet-exposed industrial control systems (ICS) often leave such facilities at risk.

Times of Israel:      radiflow:       ZDNet:      Security Week:        

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