Those responsible for illicit activities on the Internet is very diverse and includes from nation states to neighborhood thugs, intelligence services, hackivists, military personnel, industrial spies or hackers of all kinds.
Some, however, have managed to compromise security in the world to unsuspected limits.
The SCADA system allows controlling and supervising industrial processes at a distance, such as regulating the treatment of municipal waters in the United States. This system adjusts the appropriate mixture of chemical substances to purify the water and make it drinkable for its consumption.
A group of pirates managed to attack the Department of Water and Sewerage of South Houston, Texas, in 2011, according to Marc Goodmanin his book The crimes of the future :
The attacker’s Internet protocol address was sent back to Russia and it is said that the hackers involved repeatedly switched on and off a bomb until it stopped working. And although nobody became ill as a result of that attack, the proof of concept was demonstrated.
The control tower of the Federal Aviation Administration of Worcester, Massachusetts, was attacked in 1998 by a teenager in the region, interrupting communications between the plane that had to make a landing and the control tower and even turned off the lights of the track where he had to land.
In the United States, the power line connects 5800 individual power stations and has more than 735,000 kilometers of high-voltage transmission lines. Each of these components employs SCADA technologies, so they can be vulnerable to hacker attacks.
In fact, according to an investigation carried out by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, more than a dozen utilities have reported frequent cyber attacks. Some mafias also use these strategies to extort, as happened in Rio de Janeiro, between 2005 and 2007:
In that indicente, about three million people were plunged into darkness when the electricity company in the area refused to accept extortion demands from a local mafia union. As a result, the city of Votória, one of the largest producers of iron ore in the world, was forced to disconnect numerous factories, which cost the company about seven million dollars.
It can be assumed that these attacks will become increasingly common and will have more serious consequences, because most of the world’s infrastructures use SCADA monitoring, control and acquisition systems, which are usually specialized and generally outdated computer systems. The connections to the Network of these systems make them particularly vulnerable, so, if urgent measures are not taken, cyber attacks could become much more common and dangerous.