Bad News: Hackers Are Coming for Your Tap Water
Kyle Wilhoit, a 29-year-old Missourian working for a cybersecurity company called Trend Micro, has spent the last year building fake water plant control systems that mimic the online control systems used by real American utilities. Dubbed “honeypots,” these sorts of decoys are deployed to draw in the ill-mannered beasts of the internet—malicious hackers.
Wilhoit’s traps appear to be working. Hackers employing a software tool used by the Chinese army—as well as hackers that appear to originate from Russia, Palestine, Germany, and other countries—have been breaking into Trend Micro’s phony US water systems. In some cases, they have gone so far as to steal files so they can access the systems again. They also have gained access to imaginary pumps, which in a real scenario would allow them to modify water pressure, temperature, purification level, and even shut off the flow entirely.