An Iranian backed group of hackers called the “Cyber Av3ngers” took control of a station belonging to the municipal water authority of the Pennsylvania town of Aliquippa this week.
The station is part of the water pressure system for Raccoon and Potter Townships in Pennsylvania, Brietbart reported this week. Instead of a normal, run of the mill work week, employees were instead greeted by messages on their screens that said: “Down with Israel!” and “Every equipment ‘Made in Israel’ Is Cyber Av3ngers legal target.”
The compromised system utilized equipment from Unitronics, an Israeli automation company, was promptly disabled for safety reasons once the breach was detected.
The incident in Aliquippa prompted alarm systems to activate immediately upon the compromise of the system, although the water quality in the affected townships was not seriously jeopardized, the report said.
Security Week said that the attack seemed to target a Unitronics Vision system, which is a programmable logic controller (PLC) with an integrated human-machine interface (HMI). Unitronics Vision products have been known to have vulnerabilities that could make them susceptible to cyberattacks, the report said.
It added that HMIs, in particular, are sometimes left exposed to the internet without authentication, making them attractive targets for threat actors with varying levels of skill.
Congressman Chris Deluzio (D-PA) said:
“Attacks on our critical infrastructure like water are unacceptable. I intend to push for a full investigation here and accountability for the attackers, and I will continue the important bipartisan work on the House Armed Services Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation (CITI) Subcommittee to shore up America’s defenses,”
He expressed his vigilance in monitoring the cyberattack and noted that federal officials are involved in the investigation.
Breitbart noted that the hacking group was “among the terrorist-supporting Iranian hacker groups that threatened to increase their attacks on Israel after the Hamas atrocities of October 7.”
While the group has asserted that they have disrupted multiple water and power infrastructure targets in Israel, experts don’t necessarily agree. A number of these claims have been definitively refuted by cybersecurity experts on the global stage. Instead, experts say that the Cyber Av3ngers frequently rely on data files and screenshots from attacks conducted by other groups to falsely claim responsibility for hacks.