Illinois water pump hack - no Russian invasion

The failure of a water pump in Illinois had nothing to do with a security attack from Russia, the contractor who turned out to be at the heart of the episode has said.

In mid-November, an incident where an Illinois water pump was being remotely turned on and off causing it to fail was attributed by the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center to a supposed attack emanating from a Russian IP address, leading many to chalk the incident up as the first successful attack on a US supervisory control and data acquisition (Scada) system.

However, the Washington Post reported a week later that a US contractor travelling in Russia had been behind the connection to the Scada system that had led to the intelligence centre's report. On Wednesday, the contractor, Jim Mimlitz, gave an interview to Wired in which he explained what happened.

Mimlitz's integration firm had helped set up the Scada system for the Curran Gardner Public Water District around Springfield, Illinois, and still provides support for the system. While in Russia on vacation in June, he received a request from Curran Gardner to remotely log on and check some data history charts.

For more on this story, read Contractor explains water-pump 'Scada hack' on ZDNet UK.

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