A team of researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology recently developed a new form of ransomware that could take over control of water treatment plants. The simulated hacking exercise was able to command programmable logic controls (PLCs) to shut down water valves, increase or decrease the amount of chemicals used to treat water, and churn out false readings.
According to the researchers, simulations were conducted to highlight the vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure. This research comes at a time when cyber security concerns have reached a high point in light of recent cyber attacking and hacking attempts across the globe.
Cyber attacks go far beyond the acquisition of emails and corruption of websites. Any establishment with PLCs is, in theory, vulnerable to hacking. This could range from water infrastructure, as demonstrated here, to electrical dependency.