Cyber-breach at Illinois water utility investigated (report)

According to Reuters, the breach occurred as result of security credentials stolen from an industrial controls software application.

Could this be the first example of the sorts of security threats that the smart grid will bring?

Reuters is reporting that federal investigators are looking into an incident in Illinois in which hackers apparently were able to shut down a water pump. According to Reuters, the incident happened on Nov. 8, when hackers apparently compromise the utility's network using credentials stolen out of a software application used to control the utility's industrial (also known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, or SCADA) systems.

The Reuters story suggests that the incident is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Although details are very sketchy, the incident is noteworthy since some experts have said too little attention has been paid to the security of the so-called smart grid, the next generation of systems used to control and distribute utilities such as electricity or water in a much more logical manner.

Another reason for utilities and other municipal networks to keep particular tabs on their IT security profiles. Also another reminder that information technology isn't limited to desktop computers, notebooks, servers and other equipment we typically associate with data center infrastructure. Any device that can tap into corporate networks -- including sensors and industrial control systems -- could be vulnerable.