Malware infects two US power plants

Computers at two power plants in the US have been infected with malware, according to the US Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), a section of the US Department of Homeland Security.

At one power station, a sophisticated virus was found on three computers, two of them crucial to the plant’s control environment. These workstations had no backup so a failed clean up would have impaired the plant’s operation, according to the latest ICS-CERT newsletter.

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In early October, ten computers at another power company picked up a virus from a USB drive used to upload software updates during a scheduled outage for equipment upgrades. As the computers formed part of the plant’s turbine control system, the restart was delayed by three weeks.

To prevent such incidents, the ICS-CERT recommends maintaining a system of ‘hot spares’ or other backups for critical systems. USB device should be cleaned before each use or replaced with write-once media such as CDs or DVDs.

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