The targets included the Equipment used by the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania and Brewmation, a New York-based company specializing in turnkey brewing and distilling equipment.
U.S. officials have attributed a cyberattack on the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, to the hacktivist group Cyber Av3ngers. This is the same group that previously claimed responsibility for targeting the Israeli oil refinery giant BAZAN with a series of DDoS attacks (distributed denial-of-service attacks).
According to Check Point Research and Google’s Mandiant reports, this group is believed to have ties to the Iranian government.
In its cyber attack on the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, Cyber Av3ngers defaced the equipment used by the authority with a message of their own, stating that they were targeting Israeli-made equipment. Reportedly, the equipment that was targeted and disabled was manufactured by the Israeli company Unitronics.
Hackread.com can exclusively confirm that the group also targeted Brewmation, a New York-based company specializing in turnkey brewing and distilling equipment. The company’s brewery control system experienced a cyber attack over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The cyberattack on the equipment used by Bewmation saw the same deface image that was left by the hackers on the equipment used by the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa.
Evidence suggests that the hackers deliberately targeted the facility due to the equipment’s Israeli origin. A photo from the targeted organization shows a message from the hackers that read, “Every equipment ‘made in Israel’ is Cyber Av3ngers legal target.”
The attack targeted a device used to control water levels at the authority’s tanks automatically. However, it did not disrupt water service to customers. Still, the incident has raised concerns about the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to cyber threats.
Cybersecurity experts had warned that the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas may cause a spike in cyberattacks in Western Pennsylvania and other regions. The Western Pennsylvania All Hazards Fusion Center issued an alert warning that anti-Israel threat actors could target any critical infrastructure or key resources in the region.
In response to the attack, area representative Congressman Chris Deluzio has called for a full investigation into this incident while emphasizing the need for all organizations, including small local governments and private actors, to step up their cybersecurity systems. Deluzio noted that implementing sophisticated cyber defences is the need of the day.
Three Pennsylvania lawmakers have urged for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice to warn other water and sewage treatment utilities about possible threats and risks involved with vulnerable industrial control systems.
In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Senators John Fetterman and Bob Casey, along with Representative Chris Deluzio, raised concerns over the vulnerable nature of drinking water and other critical infrastructure.
They emphasized the need to protect these systems from foreign adversaries and terrorist organizations, urging the DoJ to investigate the incident thoroughly and also calling for a broader assessment of the nation’s cybersecurity posture.
Federal agencies are also involved in the investigation. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a statement revealing that it is aware of the intrusion and is working with partners to understand the situation and provide support. The FBI did not confirm or deny that an investigation was underway.
The Aliquippa Water Authority chairman, Matthew Mottes, stated that federal officials informed him of more hacking attempts from the same threat actor, targeting four of their utilities and an aquarium.
Cyber Av3ngers claimed to have hacked 10 water treatment stations in Israel on October 30 in a separate development. It is unclear whether any equipment was shut down due to these attacks.
Nevertheless, the cyberattack highlights the capabilities and skills hacktivists possess to deliver their message to adversaries. Cyber Av3ngers vow to continue targeting Israel and any company or business utilizing equipment manufactured or provided by the State of Israel.
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