Israel’s national cyber chief Yigal Unna officially confirmed that the country in April had thwarted a major cyber attack against its water systems. The media, citing officials that spoke under condition of anonymity, attributed the “synchronized and organized attack” to the Government of Teheran.
Yigal Unna did not explicitly attribute the attack to Iran, he only warned of unpredictable developments of an ongoing stealth Information warfare.
“Rapid is not something that describes enough how fast and how crazy and hectic things are moving forward in cyberspace and I think we will remember this last month and May 2020 as a changing point in the history of modern cyber warfare,” he told to the audience of the virtual cyber conference CyberechLive Asia.
“If the bad guys had succeeded in their plot we would now be facing, in the middle of the Corona crisis, very big damage to the civilian population and a lack of water and even worse than that.”
Unna pointed out that the attempt to hack into Israel’s water systems marked the first time in modern history that “we can see something like this aiming to cause damage to real life and not to IT or data.”
At the end of April, the Israeli government has issued an alert to organizations in the water sector following a series of cyberattacks that targeted the water facilities.
At the time, Israel’s National Cyber Directorate announced to have received reports of cyber attacks aimed at supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems at wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations and sewage facilities.
Organizations were recommended to implement supplementary security measures to protect SCADA systems used in the water and energy sectors. The government urges to immediately change the passwords of control systems exposed online, ensure that their software is up to date, and reduce their exposure online.
The good news is that according to the report from the Israel’s Water Authority, the attacks did not impact operations at the facilities.
Intelligence experts believe that Israel and Iran are engaged in a covert cyber dispute and recently also hit critical infrastructure or both countries.
attacks. Most famously, U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies are suspected of unleashing a computer worm called Stuxnet years ago in an attempt to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.
Israel is suspected to be behind the recent cyberattack which disrupted some operations at Iran’s Shahid Rajaei Port, located near the Strait of Hormuz.
“It is a part of some attack over Israel and over the national security of Israel and not for financial benefit,” Unna added. “The attack happened but the damage was prevented and that is our goal and our mission. And now we are in the middle of preparing for the next phase to come because it will come eventually.”
Unna said the cyber attack marked a historic turning point in cyber warfare.
“Cyber winter is coming and coming even faster than I suspected,” he said. “We are just seeing the beginning.”
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(SecurityAffairs – Israel, Iran)