- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Iranian hackers have taken credit for breaching a dam near New York City in 2013 after details of the intrusion were publicly acknowledged earlier this week for the first time ever.

SOBH Cyber Jihad, an apparent Iran-based hacktivist group, said its members had gained access to the computer system that controlled the Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye Brook, New York, NBC News reported on Wednesday.

The group had made the admission through another organization of cybercriminals linked to Iran, Parastoo, and said it would release technical proof of their intrusion in the coming days, NBC reported, citing Flashpoint Intelligence, a cybersecurity company based out of New York.

While the hack had occurred two years prior to being revealed in a report published in the Wall Street Journal this week, NBC said that the cyber jihad group kept quiet until now because of a “state-level” warning that they keep the intrusion under wraps “for the greater good.”

A Twitter account believed registered to the group, @SobHCybeRJihaD, has not posted any messages since January 2014, and a document uploaded in September to Cryptome, a website that publishes government leaks, bears the group’s name and references attacks against the U.S. Department of Energy. The veracity of the Twitter account and document could not immediately be verified.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that the Bowman Avenue dam’s computer system had been breached in 2013 by Iranian hackers, citing two people familiar with the incident. Marcus Serrano, Rye Brook’s city manager, told the paper he was visited by FBI agents that year and asked to arrange a meeting between investigators and the city’s IT team.

“This cyberattack surely serves as a bucket of ice water to the face,” Sen. Charles Schumer, New York Democrat, said of the Journal’s report during a press conference on Wednesday.

“There are larger dams, there are public utilities, there are nuclear power plants,” he added. “We don’t know how many attacks like this have been attempted. Is it just the tip of the iceberg.”

Although federal officials declined to comment on the record with regards to the breach, NBC News claimed it had obtained a Department of Homeland Security report that suggests the dam’s system had been improperly accessed a half-dozen times in late 2013.

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