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May 8th, 2012:

Major Cyber Attack Aimed at Natural Gas Pipeline Companies

American Energy Coalition - May 8th, 2012

Companies operating natural gas pipelines in the United States have recently been the targets of a major cyber attack, according to an article in the Christian Science Monitor.

Approximately 200,000 miles of these interstate natural gas transmission pipelines in the U.S. supply 25 percent of the nation's energy. Pipeline safety has been a major issue in recent years, highlighted by the San Bruno, Calif., pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes in the Bay Area in September 2010, according to the report.

The newspaper said that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued at least three confidential "amber" alerts, the second most sensitive next to "red", beginning March 29, all warning of a "gas pipeline sector cyber intrusion campaign" against multiple pipeline companies. The wave of cyber attacks, which apparently began four months ago, and may also affect Canadian natural gas pipeline companies, is continuing.

That fact was reaffirmed last week in an "incident response" report from the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), an arm of DHS, according to the Monitor report. It reiterated warnings in the earlier confidential alerts made directly to pipeline companies and some power companies.

In last week's public warning, ICS-CERT reaffirms that its "analysis of the malware and artifacts associated with these cyber attacks has positively identified this activity as related to a single campaign from a single source." It goes on to broadly describe a sophisticated "spear-phishing" campaign, an approach in which cyber attackers attempt to establish digital beachheads within corporate networks.

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