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CISA warns water authorities about hacking attempts


The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued advice to water and wastewater systems on Tuesday, warning against efforts by hackers to exploit programmable logic controllers made by an Israeli company, Unitronics.

“Cyber threat actors are targeting” programmable logic controllers used in the Water and Water Systems Sector, including an identified Unitronics PLC, at a U.S. water facility, CISA said, referring to Saturday’s attack on a Pennsylvania water authority.

In that attack, an Iran-aligned cyber group, CyberAv3ngers, seized partial control of a booster station operated by the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, which used Unitronics equipment. The attack was foiled and did not affect the authority’s operations.

The system used Unitronics equipment. During the attack, hackers issued a warning against using “Made in Israel” equipment.

In its warning, CISA said the cyber threat actors likely accessed the affected device, the Unitronics Vison Series PLC with a Human Interface, “by exploiting cybersecurity weaknesses, including poor password security and exposure to the internet.”

CISA said to secure water and wastewater systems, organizations should change the Unitronics PLC default password; require multifactor authentication; and disconnect the programmable logic control from the open internet, among other steps.

CISA said suspicious or criminal activity should be reported to it or the local FBI field office.