August 19, 2019: According to Mexico News Daily, there have been over 61,000 vandalism incidents so far in 2019 in Mexico that have triggered electricity outages. The outages have occurred in Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, Sonora, Hidalgo, Chihuahua, México state, Tabasco and Baja California. This number is higher than combined outages in the same time period for both 2017 and 2018. The article also noted that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) increased land and air patrol areas by 60% last year in response to the increase vandalism.
On August 4, 2019, news sources reported that one individual died and another is in critical condition due to a copper theft attempt at a radio transmitter site in Oklahoma.
The Tulsa County Sheriff’s office reported that they were called to the KRMG AM Transmitter Site in Oklahoma the morning of August 4. They found two individuals who appeared to have been electrocuted while attempting to access the building through a conduit. Based on the tools and materials discovered at the site, the sheriff’s office believe they were attempting to steal copper. One of the individuals died, and the other is in critical condition.
E-ISAC Analyst Comment: While this is not a member site or related to the electricity industry, it is a good example of how dangerous copper theft can be – not only when stealing the copper itself, but even in accessing sites that contain copper. It is essential to increase awareness of the dangers of copper theft to assist in prevention and mitigation. A few suggested prevention tips provided by members include:
- Create local groups to address copper theft, such as a coalition to increase public awareness and/or community watches to keep an eye on nearby facilities.
- Discuss and develop alert or reporting systems to make it easier for residents to report suspicious activity.
- Increase community awareness by issuing informational brochures and alerts on copper theft.
- Advocate for stricter laws when dealing with copper theft, such as charging thieves with endanger life to increase penalties, thereby deterring future thefts.
For additional copper theft prevention best practices, please reference the TLP:White Copper Theft Prevention White Paper (119770) developed by the E-ISAC Physical Security Analysis Team in coordination with the Physical Security Advisory Group. This paper aims to provide copper theft prevention best practices and lessons learned that asset owners and operators have implemented successfully in North America.
Recommendation: Be vigilant about suspicious behavior in your area. Please continue sharing this type of activity with the E-ISAC and law enforcement.
The E-ISAC is providing this bulletin for situational awareness. If further information becomes available, it will be added as an update to this post.
Leaked Huawei Employment Records May Show Links to Chinese Military and Intelligence Agencies
According to The Telegraph, leaked information from Huawei staff's CVs showed some employees had links to China's Military and Intelligence Community. The article details that some employees trained at China's military academy, served as agents of the Ministry of State Security and collaborated with the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
As many of you are aware, a significant power outage occurred in South America Sunday, impacting all of Argentina and Uruguay, as well as portions of southern Brazil, Chile, and Paraguay.
Below is an official statement from the Department of Energy:
At this time, the cause of the outage remains under investigation. It appears that the outage occurred following the failure of two 500 kV transmission lines.
The Argentine Minister of Energy has stated that they are looking into every possibility but noted that "[w]e don't believe it was a cyber attack."
We will continue to monitor the situation and will provide additional information if there are any updates.
Drone Strikes in Saudi Arabia
Yemen Houthi rebels have recently claimed responsibility for two drone strikes in Saudi Arabia targeting oil pumping stations and resulting in the temporary shutdown of a major pipeline in the kingdom. It is believed that these attacks were sponsored by Iran, and the rebels claimed that the drone attacks were part of a coordinated attack which included other energy infrastructure. The rebels said the attacks was a response to “the crimes they are committing every day against the Yemeni people.”[i] [file://wdcevfs1/users$/meredithj/Documents/Portal%20Posts/TLP%20GREEN%20E-ISAC_May%2015%20Drone%20Attack%20Article_v2.docx#_edn1] Although the damage was minimal, the attack demonstrated not just the ownership and usage of armed drones, but the capability to use global positioning satellite technology to target infrastructure. The attack came only a day after four oil tankers were sabotaged near the coast of the United Arab Emirates, two of which appear to also belong to Saudi Arabia, which has led to speculation that the attacks may be connected.
It is important for the electric industry to be aware of attacks such as these as a sign of the increasing threat posed by and weaponization of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), as well as tactics, techniques, and procedures that are beginning to become more prevalent worldwide.
Below please find some articles related to both incidents for your convenience:
[i] [file://wdcevfs1/users$/meredithj/Documents/Portal%20Posts/TLP%20GREEN%20E-ISAC_May%2015%20Drone%20Attack%20Article_v2.docx#_ednref1] Per an article from TRTWORLD citing Mohammed Abdel Salam
Microsoft Addresses Critical Vulnerability in Remote Desktop Services with Patch to Include Unsupported Operating Systems
A potentially wormable, critical remote code execution vulnerability exists in Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services. This is documented in CVE-2019-0708. Microsoft has provided a patch to mitigate this, however it is noteworthy that they have also provided a patch for older, unsupported operating system versions due to the severity of the vulnerability.
The vulnerability could potentially allow an unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary code on the target system with full administrative rights.
Due to the fact that this vulnerability could allow wormable execution with no user interaction, the E-ISAC recommends researching the CVE and ensuring that any vulnerable systems in member environments are patched expeditiously.
The Department of Homeland Security has developed a fact sheet entitled “Countering Unmanned Aircraft Systems Legal Authorities” designed to assist in implementing the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018. The fact sheet highlights how DHS will implement the act appropriately to counter UAS that may present a threat, including information such as defense techniques, authorized locations, privacy considerations, and next steps. We have attached the factsheet for members’ continued awareness of UAS and Counter UAS activities.
On May 9th, threat-research company Advanced Intelligence, LLC, published a report [hXXps://www.advanced-intel.com/blog/top-tier-russian-hacking-collective-claims-breaches-of-three-major-anti-virus-companies] on threat actors “Fxmsp,” who claim to have breached three leading antivirus companies. According to the article, on April 24th Fxmsp extracted source code from antivirus software, artificial intelligence, and security plugins from those three companies. Fxmsp offered screenshots of the companies’ folders (30 TB), which appeared to contain information about their development documentation, artificial intelligence model, web security software, and antivirus software base code.
The article states that Fxmsp’s known TTPs include accessing network environments via remote desktop protocol servers and exposed Active Directory. The E-ISAC is unaware of matching activity found in the electricity sector.
More information can be found here [hXXps://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/05/hackers-breached-3-us-antivirus-companies-researchers-reveal/].
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This article, written by researcher Brian Krebs, describes critical security flaws that can expose security cameras and internet-capable consumer electronic devices to eavesdropping, credential theft, and remote compromise. The flaws include a weakness in peer-to-peer (P2P) communications technology and several other critical vulnerabilities.
The flawed software was developed by China-based Shenzhen Yunni Technology and is bundled with millions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, including security cameras and Webcams, baby monitors, smart doorbells, and digital video recorders. These types of devices are attractive to consumers because of their easy-access remote-access capabilities and ease of installation. This kind of ease of use and convenience can sometimes cost consumers in security and privacy; this article describes these in great detail.