Two small town U.S. water facilities targeted by Russian hackers

hacking groups
No signs of water tampering were discovered at either facility. Photo Credit: MrPanya,

Two small U.S. towns of about 5,000 residents had water treatment infrastructure targeted by two separate Russian hacking groups in recent months.

The most recent incident occurred on April 19, when the Tipton West Wastewater Treatment plant in Tipton, Indiana, faced a cyberattack, although plant officials with Tipton Municipal Utilities confirmed that nothing was compromised. 

Officials of the town of 5,000 people, just north of Indianapolis, shared little in the way of information about the incident. They did announce that at no time did the plant become non-operational, but failed to clarify whether the hackers were able to gain control of the plant’s software.

The Cyber Army of Russia claimed responsibility for the incident on social media.

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In Muleshoe, Texas, another small town of about 5,000 people, hackers broke into a water facility’s remote login system for industrial software in January, experts from U.S. cybersecurity firm Mandiant confirmed. The system allows operators to interact with a water tank, and the hack led to the tank overflowing for about 30 minutes.

Mandiant linked the Texas cyberattack to the Russian hacking group Sandworm.

No signs of water tampering were discovered at either facility. 

In April, two U.S. Congressmen introduced a bill aimed at safeguarding water systems from cyberthreats.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in March that it is forming a Water Sector Cybersecurity Task Force to combat hacking threats faced by water systems throughout the country.

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