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Overflowing Water Tank Linked to Russian Cyber Attack

A report released Wednesday connects a Texas cyber attack to hacker groups with Russian government ties, per CNN. The incident, in January, caused no injuries and did not affect drinking water.

Head down, a person in a hoodie works at a laptop computer
(TNS) — A water tank in Texas overflowed after a cyber attack in January, and a new report is linking the incident to hackers backed by the Russian government.

On Jan. 18, city officials in Muleshoe were alerted to an overflowing water tank. When they checked it out, they learned that a software hack had caused a system malfunction, according to City Manager Ramon Sanchez. Hackers also targeted nearby water systems in Abernathy and Hale Center but were unsuccessful — Hale Center had taken its systems offline when officials there found out about the Muleshoe hack, MyPlainview reported. Lockney also experienced water issues that day and took precautions in case it was related.

A report released Wednesday from U.S. cybersecurity firm Mandiant connected the cyber attack to hacking groups with ties to the Russian government, CNN reported.

Mandiant said hackers claimed responsibility for the Muleshoe attack in a channel on social media platform Telegram, where they posted videos that appeared to show users interfering with online water system controls in Muleshoe and Abernathy.

The firm hasn't been able to independently confirm whether the videos depict real hacking activity, but says the videos were posted the day before or the day of the Muleshoe attack.

Muleshoe has replaced the hacked software and secured the network, and the FBI is investigating, according to CNN. Drinking water was not affected, Sanchez said.

The White House and the Environmental Protection Agency urged U.S. governors in March to shore up their water systems in defense against cyber attacks.

"These attacks, carried out by countries and criminals, have the potential to disrupt the critical lifeline of clean and safe drinking water," they said in a news release.

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