Home Business IT Security The critical infrastructure hack that never was

Yesterday the Internet was a-buzz with tales of a hacker shutting down a US-based wind farm.  Pity it never happened.

On Saturday 16th April, claiming to be a disgruntled ex-employee, someone calling themselves Bigr R announced on the Full Disclosure mailing list "Here comes my revenge for illegitimate firing from Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) ... ain't nothing you can do with it, since your electricity is turned off !!!"

Attached to the submission was a sequence of 8 images - supposed screen shots from the hacked system and what appeared to be a Cicso router configuration file seemingly from the hacked company - Florida Power and Light - the owners and operators of the wind farm in question.

The news sites were all over the story.

Even at the time of writing these stories, the doubts were creeping in. 

Computerworld themselves reported that the consumers of the facility's output, New Mexico Utility company PNM "is not aware of any incidents affecting the company's Fort Sumner facility."  Surely with the media paranoia regarding critical infrastructure (Stuxnet, anyone?) news of a hacker-caused outage would have spread like wildfire.

A casual view of the provided images suggests that the site runs WinCC - a very common Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software system.  Oddly (and unconnectedly) this is the same system targeted by Stuxnet.

However, there are also some immediate difficulties with the screens.

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David Heath

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David Heath has over 25 years experience in the IT industry, specializing particularly in customer support, security and computer networking. Heath has worked previously as head of IT for The Television Shopping Network, as the network and desktop manager for Armstrong Jones (a major funds management organization) and has consulted into various Australian federal government agencies (including the Department of Immigration and the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence). He has also served on various state, national and international committees for Novell Users International; he was also the organising chairman for the 1994 Novell Users' Conference in Brisbane. Heath is currently employed as an Instructional Designer, building technical training courses for industrial process control systems.

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