Major Cyber Attack Aimed At Us Pipeline Industry Under Way?

A major cyber attack is presently below way aimed squarely at laptop or computer networks belonging to US organic gas pipeline businesses, according to alerts issued to the industry by the US Department of Homeland Security.

At least three confidential “amber” alerts – the 2nd most delicate following to “red” – had been issued by DHS starting March 29, all warning of a “gas pipeline sector cyber intrusion campaign” against many pipeline organizations. But the wave of cyber attacks, which apparently started four months ago – and could also affect Canadian normal gas pipeline companies – is continuing.

That fact was reaffirmed late Friday in a public, albeit less detailed, “incident response” report from the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), an arm of DHS primarily based in Idaho Falls. It reiterated warnings in the earlier confidential alerts made directly to pipeline businesses and some power firms.

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The ICS-CERT is charged with helping secure the nation’s industrial control systems – computerized systems that open and close valves, switches and factory processes important to the chemical, industrial, and power sectors. Their “fly away” teams check out factories, power plants, and pipeline organizations to investigate cyber intrusions.

“ICS-CERT has recently recognized an active series of cyber intrusions targeting organic gas pipeline sector businesses,” the confidential April 13 alert warns. “Many organic gas pipeline organizations have reported either attempts or intrusions relevant to this campaign. The campaign appears to have started out in late December 2011 and is active today.”

Safeguarding industrial control systems from cyber attack is a key point of debate appropriate now in Congress, which has been wrangling over whether to grant the federal government authority to need that crucial sectors like the electric utility, oil and gas, and chemical industries meet specific levels of cyber security.

Sources and more information:

• Alerts: Cyber attack aimed at pipeline industry

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