Sunday, December 30, 2012

Industrial Feed Lots Cyber Targets?

While we seldom consider an industrial hog production facility to be a cyber-target a recent TV news story out of Iowa shows how an industrial control system could be used by eco-terrorists to conduct an attack. The news story tells of a Sioux County Sherriff report of tampering with a climate control system that resulted in the death of 475 hogs.

It appears that this tampering was done manually, but reports of vulnerabilities in environmental control systems clearly shows that remote manipulation of similar controls could have the same end. It would also make it easier to affect attacks on multiple facilities and make it less likely that the perpetrator would get caught in the act.

Industrial scale feed operations have long been a target of environmentalists (and one would assume by extension the radical fringe of that movement) because of the problems with waste management and the resulting environmental damage from the release of untreated wastes.

Now pig farms are hardly critical infrastructure and have not made anyone’s list of facilities that need cybersecurity regulation. But, it just goes to show that cyber-terrorism has the potential to be used by any number of malcontents. This is not a call for regulation, but a call for more widespread discussion about industrial control system vulnerabilities.

1 comment:

Dale Peterson said...

Patrick - A lot of control systems may not be critical infrastructure but have a big impact on an individual or business if compromised.

A few years back we did an assessment at a prominent University. One of their big concerns was a multi-hour electrical outage or HVAC failure could wipe out numerous grad and doctoral students' research projects.

Thanks for your great writing this year, especially the legislative tracking, and Happy New Year,

Dale Peterson

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