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Cyberattacks Cause Water System Overflow in Rural Texas Towns

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A recent cyberattack on a small Texas town’s water system has been linked to a shadowy Russian hacktivist group, highlighting the growing threat of foreign cyberattacks on U.S. public utilities. The attack, which occurred in January, targeted three small towns in the rural Texas Panhandle, including Hale Center, Muleshoe, and Lockney.

City officials in Hale Center reported that there were 37,000 attempts in four days to log into their firewall, but the attempted hack was unsuccessful as they quickly unplugged the system and operated it manually. In Muleshoe, hackers were able to cause the water system to overflow before it was shut down and taken over manually by officials. However, city manager Ramon Sanchez reassured the public that the incident was quickly addressed and resolved, with no danger posed to the public.

According to cybersecurity firm Mandiant, the attack has been linked to a Russian hacktivist group, CyberArmyofRussia_Reborn, which has claimed responsibility for similar attacks in the United States and Poland. The group is suspected of having ties to the Russian government and engaging in cyberattacks against Ukraine and its allies.

City officials in the targeted towns have turned over information to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, who have launched investigations into the cyberattacks. This incident serves as a reminder for utilities and industries to tighten their cybersecurity measures to protect critical infrastructure from potential cyber threats. The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Security Council have also sent a letter to governors urging them to assess cybersecurity measures and plan for potential cyberattacks on water supply systems.

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