A cyberattack on a small dam in the suburbs outside of New York City was a “shot across the bow” of the United States and should be met with tougher sanctions against Iran, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said.
In 2013, hackers accessed the control system at the Bowman Avenue Dam, a small flood-control structure in Rye Brook, about 20 miles north of New York City. The intrusion prompted a federal investigation.
“Now it looks clear that the Iranians did it,” Schumer said. “What were they doing? They were sending a shot across our bow. They were saying that we can damage, seriously damage, our critical infrastructure and put the lives and property of people at risk.”
Schumer confirmed that a federal indictment is expected in the case as soon as next month. It wasn’t clear whether the indictment from the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan would charge specific people within the Iranian government or publicly name Iran as being behind the attack.
A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to an email and telephone request for comment Friday.
Schumer said the alleged hacking should be a warning to improve cyber-security.
“Hackers can come in, as these Iranian hackers did, and hurt our critical infrastructure,” he said. “What if they open the sluice gates of a dam with a whole lot of people behind it? What if they shut off the power for a large part of the area?”
At a news briefing, State Department spokesman Mark Toner declined to specifically comment on the prospects that Iran would be charged in the cyberattack, but said: “I would say broadly that we obviously take all, seriously all such malicious activity in cyberspace. We’re going to continue to use all the tools at our disposal to deter, detect, counter and mitigate that kind of activity.”