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Hackers could set oil pipelines on fire

Hackers could set oil pipelines on fire
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Did you ever see "Die Hard 4 (Live Free or Die Hard)"? If not, the basic plot is that terrorist hackers are destroying the U.S. infrastructure, and an old-school cop and another hacker have to stop them. It's your basic action-movie plot with hilariously improbable action sequences and plot devices.

One of those moments is when the bad guys hack some natural gas pipeline controls to blow up the power station where the good guys are. It got a chuckle from most techies, but it looks like it wasn't so farfetched after all.

In 2008 ("Die Hard 4" came out in 2007), the Turkish Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline burst into flames for no apparent reason. None of the alarms or warning sensors was tripped. Kurdish separatists claimed responsibility, but now security experts think it was a cyberattack - possibly Russian.

The investigation shows that hackers got access to the pipeline computers through weak security camera software. Then they snuck into a few low-priority valve stations and used the computer access to increase the pipeline pressure until it exploded. Scary.

Security experts have been warning for a while that America's electrical grid is vulnerable to cyberattack, and now it looks like the danger could be even larger than we thought. America has more than 2 million miles of pipelines - natural gas, oil, chemical, etc.

This is especially worrying with news that foreign powers have hacked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission along with U.S. airlines, hospitals, defense contractors and more. There are also government-created viruses out there stealing information and sabotaging infrastructure. It's only a matter of time before we have a real cyberwar, and I don't think anyone really knows what the end result of that will be.

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Source: Slate
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