[ISN] Utility firms sitting on hacking time bomb

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Fri Jul 13 2007 - 00:03:54 PDT


By Iain Thomson
12 Jul 2007

Utility companies could be facing a hacking time bomb owing to poor 
security measures.

As more utilities move control and billing systems online an analyst has 
warned that hackers are increasingly turning their attention to the 
possibilities of controlling the systems.

While there is little direct financial benefit in breaking into such 
systems, there may be other benefits.

"The utility companies are moving to completely digital systems and 
security is not prioritised," said Fran Howarth, partner at analyst firm 
Hurwitz & Associates.

"Hackers could siphon off electricity for use in projects like indoor 
drug farms, for example, and charge it to consumers.

"The problem is that 80 to 90 per cent of the critical infrastructure is 
in private hands and they have their own security problems, so consumers 
are low down on the list."

Howarth warned that some critical infrastructure owners are even 
neglecting physical security, particularly in the US.

The increase in political hacking means that companies that own sections 
of critical infrastructure need to be aware of the need for greater 
security infrastructure.

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