Iranian hackers gained access to the control system of a small dam in the state of New York two years ago, which raised security concerns within the U.S. government, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The report indicated that the Iranian hackers used a cellular modem to infiltrate the control system of the Bowman Avenue Dam near Rye, New York, based on the unclassified summary of the situation from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Bowman Avenue Dam is used for flood control.
People familiar with the situation said investigators believed the Iranian hackers did not control the dam, but they just examined the systems.
DHS responds to cyber threats to critical infrastructures
In a statement, S.Y. Lee, the spokesman for the DHS said the agency’s “Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Teams responds to cyber incidents, vulnerabilities and threats” to critical infrastructures across the country.
According to him, the agency “continues to coordinate efforts to strengthen the security and resilience of critical infrastructure, working with our federal and industry partners across the country to raise awareness about evolving threats and promote measures to reduce risks to systems we all rely on.”
U.S. authorities are concerned about protecting the country’s infrastructures from cyber attacks. Researchers at Shodan, a search engine that catalogs every machine online noted that the United States has more than 57,000 industrial-control systems connected to the internet.
Since 2011, the DHS advised industrial companies to be more cautious on connecting their systems to the internet. The agency received and responded to 295 reports of hacking incidents on industrial control systems during the 12 months ended September 30, up from 245 in the previous year.
Iranian hackers are motivated and unpredictable
The reported infiltration of the Bowman Avenue Dam happened amid the cyber attacks against the websites of banks in the United States in 2013 by hackers linked to the government of Iran.
The incident was only a few years after American spies caused serious damage to an Iranian nuclear facility using Stuxnet, a sophisticated computer virus, which was developed by the Central Investigation Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency, and Israel’s cyber agency, Unit 8200.
Political observers said the infiltration of the Bowman Avenue Dam demonstrated that Iran’s cyberwarfare capability is greater than expected. Iranian hackers can inflict damage.
During a congressional hearing in February, National Intelligence Director James Clapper described Iranian hackers as motivated and unpredictable cyber actors.”