Timeline: Critical infrastructure attacks increase steadily in past decade

This timeline accompanies our story After Stuxnet: The new rules of cyberwar.


Siberian pipeline sabotage: The CIA places deliberate flaws in control system plans stolen by Russia. Allegedly flaws in the stolen software led to a massive pipeline explosion in June 1982.

Source: The Telegraph


Salt River Project computer network hack: While accessing billing information, an employee gains access to the utility's mission-critical systems, including those that handle water and power monitoring and delivery, as well as financial and customer and personal information. Log-in and password files, computer system log files and "root" privileges were taken and/or altered.

Source: Idaho National Laboratory


Port of Houston system crash: By bombarding its computer system with thousands of electronic messages, British hacker Aaron Caffrey crashes the system that helps ships navigate the harbor in the Port of Houston, one of the largest U.S. ports.

Source:BBC News


The Slammer Worm: The worm infects at least 120,000 computers, causing network outages and disrupting flights, elections, ATMs, 9-1-1 emergency services and a nuclear monitoring system at the Davis-Besse Ohio Nuclear Power Plant.

Source: Computerworld


Titan Rain: A series of computer attacks originally launched against a variety of U.S. military computer systems in 2003 go undetected until the following year. Thought to have originated in China, the hacks didn't breach classified systems, but sensitive files were copied.



Sabotage of California's Tehama Colusa Canal Authority: A former employee of a small California canal system installs unauthorized software and damages a computer used to divert water from the Sacramento River.

Source: Computerworld


Operation Aurora: A persistent and sophisticated cyberspying operation attempts to siphon intellectual property from major corporations, including Google, Intel, Symantec and Adobe.

Source: Computerworld


Spies breach electricity grid in U.S.: According to current and former national security officials, as reported in The Wall Street Journal, cyberspies from China, Russia and other countries penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Stuxnet: The Stuxnet worm temporarily knocks out some of the centrifuges at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, causing considerable delay to that country's uranium enrichment program. In June 2012, The New York Times reports that the U.S. and Israel developed the worm.

Source: Computerworld


The Nitro Attacks: A series of targeted attacks using an off-the-shelf Trojan horse called "Poison Ivy" is directed mainly at companies involved in the research, development and manufacture of chemicals and advanced materials. After tricking targeted users into downloading Poison Ivy, the attackers issue instructions to the compromised computers, troll for higher-level passwords and eventually offload the stolen content to hacker-controlled systems.

Source: Computerworld


Duqu Trojan: A remote-access Trojan (RAT) designed to steal data from computers it infects targets vendors of industrial control systems.

Source: Computerworld


Shamoon malware: A destructive Trojan horse, which steals data and then wipes files, is allegedly used in an attack that disabled thousands of computers at Saudi Aramco, the national oil company of Saudi Arabia.

Source: Computerworld


Flame: This highly sophisticated malware is believed to be responsible for data loss incidents at Iran's oil ministry. It was allegedly developed by the U.S. and Israeli governments to collect intelligence about Iran's computer networks that would facilitate future cyberattacks on computers used in that country's nuclear fuel enrichment program.

Source: Computerworld


Cyberattacks on natural gas pipeline companies: The Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, issues an alert to warn of ongoing cyberattacks against the computer networks of U.S. natural gas pipeline companies. The ICS-CERT alert states that the campaign involves narrowly focused spear-phishing scams targeting employees of the pipeline companies.

Source: CSO


Attacks on utilities systems: ICS-CERT issues an alert advising utilities to monitor Internet-facing control systems for activity by hackers attempting to gain remote access to control systems through brute force authentication attacks. The attackers attempted to obtain a user's log-on credentials by guessing usernames and passwords.

Source: ICS-CERT


DDoS attacks on U.S. banks: The U.S. accuses Iran of staging a wave of denial-of-service attacks against U.S. financial institutions. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warns of potential for a "cyber Pearl Harbor" against critical infrastructure and calls for new protection standards.

Source: The New York Times

Read the main story: After Stuxnet: The new rules of cyberwar

Research compiled by Mari Keefe, Computerworld editorial project manager.

Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags security

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Mari Keefe

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place