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Computer at Water Filtration Plant Attacked by Hacker

According to the report, the hacker gained access to the system by tapping into the laptop of an employee via Internet. This compromised system was then exploited as an inlet to install a virus and spyware in the computer system of plant.

If there is truth in the report, it means that the PC of the plant was turned into a zombie. A zombie is a confiscated computer, which is at the mercy of hacker. Usually hackers network these zombies into botnets and use them to install malevolent software and to pass on spam.

The FBI is concerned that even without targeting the system itself, this malicious software could have interfered with the plant's operations.
FBI, Philadelphia, is investing the matter to find out how the hacker broke into the system. But nobody has been arrested yet. The hackers are supposed to be operating outside the US.

Jerri Williams, Special agent, FBI, told ABC News it seems the aim of the hacker was not to disturb the plant's functions but to use its system to secretly distribute bulk e-mails or corrupt software.

Williams said that the anxiety was high because the compromised computer controls a very important infrastructure system. If that system failed due to any reason, it could have disrupted service.

Post September 11, 2001, the computer security in US water systems was increased. But water systems may still be linked to Internet connected administrative networks. Williams said that if the hacker was very good at his job, then he could get into a computer through administrative network.

An industry information sharing and analysis center, WaterISAC, has members from more than 1000 water and watershed systems in US. It said that it was the 4th attack into the system of a member in last 4 years.

After intrusion, all the passwords of system have been changed and the home access to system has also been eliminated.

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