Contractor pleads guilty to SCADA tampering

Experts worry that compromising such systems could lead to large-scale power outages or environmental damage

A former IT consultant for an oil and gas exploration company has pleaded guilty to tampering with the company's computer systems after he was turned down for a permanent position with the company.

Mario Azar, 28, pleaded guilty on Sept. 14 to one count of damaging computer systems and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. News of his plea was announced Wednesday by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to court records, Azar accessed Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) computer systems belonging to Pacific Energy Resources of Long Beach, California, and caused the company to lose control of its computer systems around May or June of 2008.

Only a handful of SCADA computer intrusions have been reported, but because the systems are used to control large-scale industrial systems in manufacturing plants, public utilities and the chemical industry, security experts worry that tampering with them could lead to a large-scale power outage or environmental disaster.

Azar played a role in setting up a system that helped the company communicate between its headquarters and oil platforms, and which was also used to detect leaks on the company's oil platforms. He had several user accounts on company systems, authorities said.

His actions caused thousands of dollars in damage, authorities said, but did not cause oil leaks or otherwise harm the environment.

He is due to be sentenced on Dec. 7 in United States District Court for the District of Los Angeles.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags physical securitySCADA

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Bitdefender’s best-in-class security solutions have been awarded Product of the Year. Get cybersecurity that 500 MILLION users already have and trust!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?