Iran-Backed Hackers Seize Control of State’s Water Station

( Iran-backed hackers accessed computers at the water authority of a Pennsylvania region and bombarded them with messages denouncing Israel. The criminal group is known as Cyber Avengers and caused messages to appear on screens at a water station in Aliquippa. The messages read “Down with Israel!” and “Every equipment made in Israel is a cyber attacker’s legal target.”

Matthew Mottes, chairman of the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa, said the water supply to the townships of Raccoon and Potter, covered by the authority, was never in danger, and alarms were triggered immediately after the computer attack was initiated.

Mr. Mottes explained that the authority uses equipment manufactured by Unitronics, a company headquartered in Israel. Democrat Congressman Chris Deluzio, who represents the district, said he was keeping a close eye on developments and reassured Pennsylvania residents that federal investigators were involved, as well as the Pennsylvania State Police.

The cybersecurity information site Security Week said Unitronics products are known to “be affected by critical vulnerabilities that could expose devices to attacks.” The hacked system was a programmable logic controller with a human-machine interface, which Security Week describes as exposed to the internet and, therefore, “an easy target even for low-skilled threat actors.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned in October that Iran poses a significant cyber threat to American infrastructure. Speaking to the Senate Homeland and Government Affairs Committee, Mr. Blinken cautioned that Israel’s conflict with Hamas would make an already hazardous situation worse as the war raged on.

Annie Fixler, Director of Cyber and Technology Innovation at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), said Iran’s hackers are “rapidly improving their tradecraft” and becoming more sophisticated in their attacks. “Time and again, Iran has proven itself to be a formidable adversary in cyberspace, quickly weaponizing known vulnerabilities to compromise unpatched networks,” she said.

FDD fellow Benham Ben Taleblu added that Tehran’s regime seeks to punish the US and “raise the costs of continuing to stand by Israel.”

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