December 21, 2015 by

Iran-Based Hackers Targeted Dam in New York

According to a new report, hackers from Iran had reportedly breached the control systems of a hydro dam near New York City. The breach occurred in 2013.

A new report in the Wall Street Journal has highlighted an infiltration of the control system at a dam that is located 20 miles from New York City, primarily used for food control. Citing former and current officials from within the United States government, along with rounded opinions from experts familiar with the matter, the event of the breach also saw the White House notified at the time.

Two sources close to the publication note the dam to be the Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye, New York. The WSJ also cited an unclassified Department of Homeland Security summary of the incident that concluded the hackers gained access to the dam using a cellular modem.

The dam itself is a 20-foot-tall, concrete slab structure across Blind Brook. Bowman Avenue Dam is about five miles from Long Island Sound.

Speaking about the dam, Rye City Manager Marcus Serrano told the publication:

It’s very, very small.

He also added that agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation visited the city in 2013 to ask the city’s information technology manager about a hacking incident at the time.

The federal investigators initially thought the target of a dam breach was a much larger dam, instead of the relatively small one targeted by the hackers. The breach also occurred during a time when American cyberespionage agents irrevocably damaged an Iranian nuclear facility with the infamous Stuxnet computer malware.

The WSJ also added that the United States had over 57,000 industrial control systems connected to the internet.

While the hackers did not seize control of the dam, they reportedly probed the dam’s infrastructure system.  While there is no reported damage from the breach, the very notion of foreign spies infiltrating a dam’s network from a location halfway around the world raises concerns about the country’s cybersecurity standard. Even more so, the cybersecurity infrastructure at a critical installation such as a dam.


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LIFARS is a digital forensics and cybersecurity intelligence firm based in New York City. LIFARS is ranked as one of the top Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigations companies in 2016 and as one of the top cybersecurity companies in the New York metropolitan area for 2015 on the Cybersecurity 500 – a directory of the hottest and most innovative companies to watch in the cybersecurity industry.

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