South Staffordshire Water says it was the target of a cyberattack when criminals failed an extortion attempt |  science and technology news

South Staffordshire Water says it was the target of a cyberattack when criminals failed an extortion attempt | science and technology news

South Staffordshire Water “has been the subject of a criminal cyberattack,” the company has confirmed.

In a statement, it stressed that it “was still supplying drinking water to all of our Cambridge Water and South Staffs Water customers.”

“This is thanks to the robust systems and controls over water supply and quality that we have in place at all times, as well as the swift work of our teams in responding to this incident and implementing the additional measures we have put in place preventively.” . .”

The statement was released after a ransomware group known as Cl0p claimed to have hacked into the networks of a different water company.

Using their dark website as part of a failed cyber extortion effort, the group posted what appeared to be stolen identification documents.

It is not clear how the criminals managed to misidentify the victim company.

In addition to posting files, the group criticized the company’s security and suggested that other hackers could enter the network and cause significant damage.

Cl0p typically encrypts files on victims’ computer networks to render IT systems useless unless those victims make an extortion payment, often running into the millions of dollars.

In this case, Cl0p claims to have decided not to encrypt company files. Instead, it demands an extortion payment to prevent the release of the stolen data and to explain how it managed to break into the network.

The group claims to be able to access the company’s SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems, which are software used to manage industrial processes, such as those at water treatment facilities.

In another unverified claim that is disputed by South Staffs Water, the extortionists state: “It would be easy to change the chemical composition of your water, but it is important to note that we are not interested in causing harm to people.”

Most water companies have sophisticated systems in place to ensure the quality of their water, including various checks and balances that resist failure of individual subsystems.

Ransomware groups often exaggerate their access to victims’ networks in order to extort money from them, hoping their claims will be amplified into damaging news headlines.

The UK’s National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC) advises organizations do not make extortion payments as they do not guarantee any action of the attackers and also directly contribute to the success of the criminal enterprise.

NCSC Chief Executive Lindy Cameron said earlier this year: “Ransomware remains the biggest online threat to the UK and we do not encourage or condone paying ransom demands to criminal organisations.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a recent increase in payments to ransomware criminals and the legal sector has a vital role to play in helping reverse that trend.

“Cyber ​​security is a collective effort and we urge the legal community to work with us as we continue our efforts to combat ransomware and keep the UK safe online.”

In its statement, South Staffs said: “We are experiencing outages to our corporate IT network and our teams are working to resolve this as quickly as possible. It is important to emphasize that our customer service teams are operating as usual.”

A government spokesman said: “We are aware that South Staffordshire Plc has been the target of a cyber incident. Defra and NCSC are working closely with the company.”

“After extensive engagement with South Staffordshire Plc and the Drinking Water Inspectorate, we are confident there are no impacts to the continued safe supply of drinking water, and the company is taking all necessary steps to investigate this incident.”

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