US Energy Grid Hacked

April 10th, 2009 | Sources: Wall Street Journal


Russian and Chinese cyberspies have accessed the US electrical grid and inserted software that, if activated, can disrupt the system and cause massive blackouts according to national security officials.

ChinesewormattackThe intruders have not attempted to bring down the grid, but one official told the Wall Street Journal that “if we go to war with them, they will try.”

Nearly all the violations were detected by US intelligence agencies, not the companies responsible for the infrastructure.

The intelligence officials also raised concerns that cybercriminals could carry out similar crimes against nuclear power plants, financial networks and water and sewage systems, since they all rely on the Internet for communication and control.

In 2000 for example, a whacked-out Australian hacker commanded a water-treatment facility to release 200,000 gallons of raw sewage into rivers, parks, and property owned by a Hyatt hotel.

And Tom Donahue, a senior CIA official said that last year, a coordinated cyberattack shut down power equipment in several countries outside the US. The attackers subsequently tried to extort money, according to Donahue.

shockingdevelopments“Our own infrastructures are as vulnerable as (our) foreign counterparts,” warned Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair.

Nevertheless, these officials see no immediate danger.

China, for example, can’t afford to disrupt our economy since American consumers are major purchasers of its products.

The Big O has tasked a committee to review US cybersecurity programs. The report is due next week.

“Russia has nothing to do with cyberattacks on US infrastructure or on infrastructure in any other country,” Yevgeniy Khorishko, a Russian Embassy spokesman admonished the Journal.

The Chinese government “resolutely oppose[s] any crime, including hacking, that destroys the Internet or computer networks” echoed Chinese Embassy spokesperson Wang Baodong.


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