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    Friday, 10 November 2017

    HACKERS: The day a coffee machine overturned a Petrochemical

    Ransomware attacks have been increasingly used by hackers, but few seem to have been as unusual as what happened with a European petrochemical. One of his employees, who does not want to be identified, described a curious story of how a coffee machine left the entire hair safety team standing, infecting computers disconnected from the internet. The chemical engineer and computer scientist described the case on Reddit using the pseudonym "C10H15N1". This is the formula of diethylaniline, a substance used in dyes. Without revealing the name, the professional has made it clear that it is a large petrochemical, present throughout Europe. Each of the units has a control room with machines responsible for monitoring the factory. And these computers sound alarms when they identify a problem. Either because a duct is overloaded or the temperatures are not adequate.

    In addition to the local control rooms, there is a general monitoring center and external to the factories. There, a team works by monitoring all factories at the same time. Our hidden chemist "Diethylaniline" lies precisely in this crisis-containment HQ. At the site, he receives calls from any petrochemical unit and attempts to solve at a distance. As he also has training in programming, he has knowledge to deal with any faults in the factory and adjust systems to avoid large-scale breads. The hacker attack occurred on a day that appeared to be like any other. No alarms until then and all systems working correctly. It was then when the control center received a call from one of the factories, from a completely frightened employee, saying that all computers had been infected with a virus. After describing what he saw on the screens, the rapporteur of the case pointed out: it was an ransomware infection.

    Ransomwares are threats known to sequester files from a computer through encryption, preventing backups. In some cases, as in Petya, the coding can happen already in the boot of the computer, something that precludes until the formatting. Hackers use such type-of-rescue attacks - usually on bitcoins that are hard to track - or to mine similar cryptographic coins.

    Regardless of cryptography and the type of rescue, a ransomware is not desirable in a petrochemical. And precisely because of this the central control machines are completely offline. They are connected to a local area network without internet connection, nor do they have USB ports to avoid contact with infected physical devices.

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