Federal investigators are looking into reports that a hackers may have caused a water pump in Illinois to burn out last week, according to a Homeland Security official.
On Thursday, Joe Weiss, a managing partner at the industrial security firm Applied Control Solutions, publicized portions of a report that outlined an attack on a water system in a blog post. The computers that carried out the attack, which led to the pump failure, were traced to an IP address in Russia, according to Weiss.
The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are "gathering facts" about the alleged cyberattack, DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard said in a statement.
"At this time there is no credible corroborated data that indicates a risk to critical infrastructure entities or a threat to public safety," he said.
Congress and federal agencies are debating the extent of the threat to physical "critical infrastructure" such as water systems, which have become vulnerable to cyberthreats as they have been connected to communications networks. So far, however, there have been practically no confirmed instances of a cyberattack causing physical damage in the United States.
"With increased interest from the hacker community, the public release of malicious code such as STUXNET, and our growing reliance on 'Smart' utilities, incidents like the alleged hacking of a Springfield, Illinois, water utility will become more of a reality if we continue to delay instituting necessary reforms to the cyber systems that run our most important infrastructure," co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., said in a statement.