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Codebreaker

No hack in Illinois

Marc Sanchez Dec 5, 2011

<strong></strong>Remember back a couple weeks ago, when we told you about a water treatment facility in Illinois and another in Texas allegedly being hacked? <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16003138">Turns out the Illinois problem was a big, old case of operator error</a>. The Texas hack is still legit, as we said, and was meant as a warning to beef up security.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations came to the conclusion a few days after initial reports of the Illinois problem that it wasn’t caused by a hacker. But still, why did one of the pumps turn off? And why were the Russians being blamed when the story first hit? Well, the pump burned out, because that’s what pumps do from time to time. And if the FBI would have talked to Jim Mimlittz, the second question about this whole big mess could have been cleared up. Mimiltz is a plant consultant, who happened to be on vacation in Russia a few months before the accident. He logged into the plant’s system to make sure everything was running smoothly (suspicious ISP – check). The BBC quotes Mimlitz as saying, “a quick and simple phone call to me right away would have defused the whole thing immediately.”

So a big Price is Right “loser” trombone to this game of Internet he-said-she-said. It should still be pointed out, however, that these systems are outdated and vulnerable, as exhibited by the Texas hacker.

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