07 May 2012

Major Cyber Attack Aimed at US Pipeline Industry

A major cyber attack on US gas pipeline companies is under way, according to US Department of Homeland Security alerts.

Since the end of March, the organization has sent at least three confidential "amber" alerts – the second most delicate following to "red." The warnings mentioned “a gas pipeline sector cyber intrusion campaign” not only against the industry in US, but also in Canada.

The Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), an arm of DHS, repeated the security messages in public. “Our analysis of the malware and artifacts associated with these cyber attacks has positively identified this activity as related to a single campaign from a single source,” the ICS-CERT representatives said.  

They also described a sophisticated “spear-phishing” campaign, in which cyber attackers attempt to infiltrate corporate networks.

"ICS-CERT has recently recognized an active series of cyber intrusions targeting organic gas pipeline sector businesses," the confidential April 13 alert said. "Many organic gas pipeline organizations have reported either attempts or intrusions relevant to this campaign. The campaign appears to have started out in late December 2011 and is active today."

Almost 200,000 miles of the interstate natural gas transmission pipelines in the US supply 25 percent of the nation’s energy. Lately, security has been a major issue, especially after the San Bruno pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes in the Bay Area in September 2010.