US gas companies under siege, DHS warns

Powered by SC Magazine

Sustained attack proving difficult to quell.

Natural gas pipelines in the United States have been under attack from a focused group of adversaries since Christmas, the  Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says.

The DHS Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team's (ICS-CERT)  warned in an alert that officials have received reports of successful intrusions into the networks of organisations affiliated with the natural gas pipeline industry.

"Analysis of the malware and artifacts associated with these cyber attacks has positively identified this activity as related to a single campaign," the alert said. "The campaign appears to have started in late December 2011 and is active today."

Attackers appear to be using social engineering to gain a network foothold, the CERT said, and had served spear phishing emails to select targets.

The agency did not identify the adversaries. It had tried to determine the breadth of the infection, and ways to detect and remove the malware.

"ICS-CERT has conducted a series of briefings across the country to share information related to the intrusion activity with asset owners [and] operators," it said. "ICS-CERT will continue to work with private sector and government partners to respond to this and other cyber threats."

The US had more than 210 natural gas systems covered by 300,000 miles of pipes, 2007 figures from the Department of Energy state.

Government and private-sector security experts have been warning for several years how susceptible critical infrastructure organisations are to cyber attacks, especially as control systems become increasingly connected to the public internet.

DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard told that ICS-CERT has collaborated with private companies in the oil-and-gas sector since March. 

"DHS is coordinating with the FBI and appropriate federal agencies, and ICS-CERT is working with affected organisations to prepare mitigation plans customised to their current network and security configurations to detect, mitigate and prevent such threats," he said.

This article originally appeared at

Copyright © SC Magazine, US edition

US gas companies under siege, DHS warns
Top Stories
Meet FABACUS, Westpac's first computer
GE225 operators celebrate gold anniversary.
NSW Govt gets ready to throw out the floppy disks
[Opinion] Dominic Perrottet says its time for government to catch up.
iiNet facing new copyright battle with Hollywood
Fighting to protect customer details.
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
Latest Comments
In which area is your IT shop hiring the most staff?

   |   View results
IT security and risk
Sourcing and strategy
IT infrastructure (servers, storage, networking)
End user computing (desktops, mobiles, apps)
Software development

Would your InfoSec team be prepared to share threat data with the Australian Government?

   |   View results