[ISN] Cyber "Attack" Aimed at Pipeline Companies Was Handled Washington-Style

From: InfoSec News <alerts_at_private>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2012 03:08:37 -0500 (CDT)

By Shane Harris
May 10, 2012

Here's the first thing you need to know about a reported "cyber attack" 
against natural gas pipeline operators that was revealed last week: It 
wasn't actually an attack--not on the pipelines anyway, which is how it 
has been portrayed in some news accounts. So far, there's no evidence 
that electronic intruders gained access to the systems that control gas 
pipelines, or that any of these lines were damaged. Rather, an 
as-yet-unidentified hacker or group of hackers was trying to get inside 
the corporate networks of the pipeline operators themselves. That's a 
serious breach, but it's not as serious as taking over a pipeline.

Here's the second thing you need to know: This incident marks a new, 
heightened level of influence by Washington over security in the energy 
sector--and that influence will only get stronger as more incidents like 
this occur. Right now, Congress is debating cyber security legislation 
that would get the government more involved in managing corporate 
security breaches.

In this latest case, federal security and law enforcement agencies were 
involved early on as pipeline operators discovered they might be the 
target of an espionage campaign. For much of the time, they successfully 
enforced a media and public information blackout of the events. While 
several companies were discovering they were targets, federal 
authorities investigated and watched the intruders, but they didn't 
immediately issue a broad alert warning all pipeline operators that they 
might be at risk. Authorities held classified briefings with affected 
companies across the country. The intrusion campaign is ongoing, and 
it's not yet clear how many companies may be involved.

Here's how events unfolded, based on government accounts and interviews 
with people who are privy to details of the investigation.


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Received on Fri May 11 2012 - 01:08:37 PDT

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