How do hackers hack and hijack an oil and gas pipeline?


How do hackers hack and hijack an oil and gas pipeline?

In: Technology

Any modern industrial infrastructure is controlled and monitored by computers. The valves are controlled by computers and the amount of oil transfered and the quality is all measured by computers. These computers are ideally set up so they have very little contact with the outside world. But they might not be sufficiantly isolated. The Stuxnet virus a few years ago demonstrated that even if there is no communications wires going to the control machines an attacker might still be able to go through things like thumb drives used to transfer data onto and out from these closed networks. And most commercial infrastructure do not take that much precausion as they want easier flow of information. So an attacker might be able to control a computer that is used for controlling and monitoring the pipeline. The might for example shut down the pipeline making money either for ransome or by investing in competitors. Or they can even force the transfer of oil to potentially damage infrastructure, for example by overfilling storage tanks or overpressurize the pipeline until it breaks.

The hackers that hacked the Colonial Pipeline just hacked the payment system for the company. If they can’t get paid then they can’t accept orders to deliver fuel. It’s just like blocking someone out of their bank account.

They hack into the billing computers, get the people who control the valves to panic about not being paid, and get those people to shut down the pipeline for them.