About a month ago, multiple media outlets reported that hackers were very close to poisoning a water source located in Florida. The cybercriminals successfully made their way into the computer system controlling a water treatment facility located in the Sunshine State. They managed to gain full control over the plant’s computer system and start the process of increasing the levels of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) in the water. Luckily the water facility operator saw the irregularities in real-time and managed to undo the damage.
According to a statement released by the local county sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the public was never in danger, even though the hacker controlled the treatment plant’s computer for approximately 3 to 5 minutes. The origin of the attack is currently unknown, but it appears not to be a single accident as more and more cyber-attacks on US-located organizations are seen every day. Over the last few months, many high-profile government agencies, facilities, and businesses in the USA reported serious attacks.
In most cases, Russia and China appear to be behind most of the attacks. Russia-sponsored hackers managed to pull out the SolarWinds hack – a cybersecurity threat Microsoft says was the ‘largest, most sophisticated attack ever.’ An attack so bad that it would take 18 months for the US government to recover fully. To this date, Microsoft research teams are continuing to find new malware strains originating from the SolarWinds attack, with the latest being GoldMax, Sibot, and Goldfinger. Russia is not the only one aiming at the USA.
Last week’s attacks from China-backed hacker group HAFNIUM forced the Department of Homeland Security to issue a rare alert notifying all government agencies for exploits that allowed cybercriminals to hack into clients of Microsoft’s mail calendar server program called Exchange. Microsoft issued a patch immediately after finding the security threat, and U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) forced all government networks using the service to perform an update the same week. Hackers were able to steal information from law firms, defense contractors, infection disease researchers, etc. Even though that Microsoft did not disclose how many attacks have been successful and called the number “limited,” the fact that hackers backed by the Chinese Communist Party have been able to access such information is scary. Iran and North Korea are also actively aiming at targets located in the USA.
Bad actors are attacking government agencies, large businesses, and even water-plants. However, foreign actors are not only after law firms, healthcare providers, and defense contractors – they are after individuals too. Department of Justice recently charged North Korean hackers with a plot to steal $1.3B – money that was aimed to sponsor the tyrannical regime. We live in an unstable world, having a high-quality antivirus solution installed on all your connected devices would certainly decrease the chances of your hard-earned cash ending up in bank accounts that support oppressive governments around the world.