Experts agree: Wind turbine 'hacker' is a fake

Screenshots were publicly available and evidence doesn't fit the crime

An anonymous hacker who claimed to have broken into monitoring systems at a New Mexico wind turbine facility made the whole thing up, security experts said Monday.

The hacker, who called himself Bigr R, said he broke into NextEra Energy Resources' Fort Sumner wind facility in revenge for an "illegitimate firing." He posted what he said was proof of his exploits to several places Saturday, including the Full Disclosure mailing list.

In fact, the "proof" he provided had been gathered from public websites and contained contradictory information.

Ruben Santamarta, head of security assessment at the security consultancy Wintercore, was the first to uncover the hoax. He found that the screenshots allegedly proving Bigr R had access to the Fort Sumner management console were lifted from a file on a publicly available FTP server.

After pointing out a number of technical errors in the alleged proof, Santamarta concluded that Bigr R was a fake.

NextEra, owned by Florida Power & Light (FPL), had already said on Sunday that the material offered as proof was largely publicly available and that there was no evidence that its facility had been hacked.

Some Cisco routers cited by Bigr R were reported to have been accessible, but the proof he offered that he had hacked into industrial systems was all faked, Santamarta said via instant message.

Others agreed: "We now believe most, if not all, of this is a hoax and an attempt to embarrass [Florida Power & Light]," wrote Eric Byres, CTO with Byres Security, in a blog post Monday.

One expert, Wesley McGrew of security consultancy McGrew Security, had thought on Sunday that Big R's claims were probably legitimate. By Monday he had changed his mind and agreed that "it looks like a lot of it has been faked."

Bigr R insisted Sunday that he was not a hoaxer. Late Sunday and Monday, however, he did not respond to e-mails seeking comment.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Florida Power & LightWintercoreNextEra Energy Resourcessecuritylegalcybercrime

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?