Cyberwarfare Waged Against Water Grid in Pennsylvania

Cyberwarfare Waged Against Water Grid in Pennsylvania
Photo by Bob Brewer / Unsplash

Last Saturday, local news site reported an Iranian-linked "hactivist" group claimed responsibility for compromising control systems in the Aliquippa, PA water grid.

The attack disabled autonomous control over a pressure regulating pump, forcing operators to take manual control to prevent service disruption. The facility's HMI, an industrial computer which would usually allow plant operators to monitor and control operations, was commandeered by hackers to gloatingly display their anti-Semitic motivations:

Compromised HMI in the Aliquippa facility. During the 1948 Palestine war, Arab leaders spoke of "driving the Jews into the sea"; notice their depiction of the Star of David.

The cyber-militant group, which calls itself Cyber Av3ngers, is known for its ideologically motivated cyberattacks against Israel with a focus on critical infrastructure such as water and power grids. The group boasts of their operations on their verified X account. For instance, on October 6th, the day before the terrorist massacre in Israel, the group claimed responsibility for a DDoS attack waged against Israeli state-owned electric grid management company Noga.

The facility in Aliquippa was equipped with control systems produced by Unitronics, an Israeli-based industrial automation firm. Their products are commonly used in the wastewater systems sector. The group admits to choosing the Aliquippa facility due to its use of Israeli equipment: "every equipment 'made in Israel' is Cyber Av3ngers legal target."

Post WWII, the United States has set a dangerous precedent, deeply rooted in Christian morality, of "turning the other cheek" against acts of war targeting the United States, more recently extending this policy to cyberattacks on critical infrastructure.

However, one must not forget that the essence of such cyberattacks is warfare; their goal, even if not successful, is to breed mayhem and destruction against the beating heart of the United States and Western civilization: water and power grids. Therefore, such incursions should not be designated as mere cyberattacks—but rather as cyberwarfare. Whether initiated by boots on the ground or in the cloud, the Aliquippa attack was an act of war on US soil. When such an attack occurs, it is the moral imperative of the United States to identify the perpetrators through forensics and intelligence, determine their affiliations, and respond to their initiation of force with force.

This begins with the execution of the soldiers with their hands on the keyboard. If it turns out the operation was state sponsored, a formal declaration of war against that state is also required. But sometimes the enemy is larger than a particular organization or state; sometimes the enemy is an ideology, dedicated to nothing but death and destruction, which provides its adherents with the mystical fuel required to become mindless animals. In such cases, the only proper course of action is to declare war on the ideology itself and eradicate it as a measure of self-defense.

Such an ideology exists, and though seldom named explicitly, has been a long time enemy of the United States and Western civilization. This ideology was the driving force behind the October 7th massacre against Israel, 9/11, and thousands of other atrocities justified under its unwavering commitment to the nonexistent. The ideology I am referring to is Islamic jihad.

Unfortunately, as the United States has decided to turn the other cheek towards the Aliquippa attack, as it has done with the rest, Islamic jihadists will be emboldened to carry out more sophisticated attacks. In 2020, Israel thwarted an attack which attempted to manipulate control systems to introduce lethal amounts of chlorine and other chemicals into the water supply. This attack was also linked to Iran. In 2021, a similar attack in Florida "briefly increased the amount of sodium hydroxide [a component in drain cleaner] by a factor of one hundred." The responsible party for this attack is never named but can be inferred from context.

The United States needs a foreign policy overhaul. Based on principle, not pragmatism, such a foreign policy would never prescribe sacrifice to barbarism in the name of "non-escalation," "proportional response," or "international law"—settling for nothing less than a total eradication of the barbarians. Such platitudes exemplify the moral grayness permeating the West which, if left unchecked, will ultimately give the barbarians the upper hand—allowing them to perpetrate 9/11 scale attacks with impunity as a matter of routine.

Such an outcome is not inevitable, but moral grayness has momentum; it either drifts towards morality or regresses into barbarism. In order to reverse the direction of momentum, we have to challenge the underlying source of the moral grayness: irrationalism in all its forms—especially Christian morality.

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