Security researchers revealed a new ransomware that targets industrial systems and disrupts key daily process - chaprama | Insights from the world of Technology and Lifestyle


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Security researchers revealed a new ransomware that targets industrial systems and disrupts key daily process

Hackers are now using ransomware as a potent weapon to earn millions of dollars. Ransomware is malicious software used by hackers to block a computer system and will not unblock it until a certain amount (Ransom) is paid to them. Recently, we came across a particular incident wherein hackers used ransomware to attack electronic key card system in Austria that left guests stranded in and outside their rooms and restored the system only after paying said ransom.

Now security researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology have revealed the development of a new form of malware that specifically targets industrial systems. They presented their research at the RSA Conference in San Francisco on Monday.

They showed how malware attack on simulated water treatment plant can be used by hackers to disrupt key services that address daily needs such as energy providers, water. Researchers identified a number of common programmable logic controllers (PLCs) often found in industrial facilities. 

Using three different devices they tested the security levels and susceptibility to malicious attacks. Researchers combined the PLCs with pumps, tubes, and tanks to simulate a water treatment facility. The team added starch to water and instead of chlorine, they used iodine to disinfect water. So the combined water would turn blue when the attacker adds iodine to it.

Then hacker can carry simulated attack using ransomware and lock critical systems through email phishing campaigns and malicious links. Then he could threaten to dump life-threatening amounts of chlorine in water supplies which could potentially poison entire cities. Chlorine in small amounts disinfects but larger amounts are potentially toxic. If the similar attacks are carried bu hackers on hospitals it would keep patients life at risk.

Also Read: Malware uses Facebook and LinkedIn Images to Hack your PC

Raheem Beyah, Motorola Foundation Professor and associate chair in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering believes that there are known flaws in industrial control systems and hackers could target in the future.


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