This is big folks. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the U.S. power grid has been hit by cyber spies who planted software within it that could be used to disrupt it. The espionage was discovered by national security officials and doesn’t seem to be targeted at one specific power company, just the grid in general. Officials say the hackers are from China and Russia and while there is no evidence that they intended to damage the gird, the software left behind could be evidence of intent to do so. What’s more is that our water, sewage, and other infrastructure systems were also at risk.
“Over the past several years, we have seen cyberattacks against critical infrastructures abroad, and many of our own infrastructures are as vulnerable as their foreign counterparts,” Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair recently told lawmakers. “A number of nations, including Russia and China, can disrupt elements of the U.S. information infrastructure.”
While there is no immediate danger, this is not something to be taken lightly. Last year a cyberattack took out power equipment in multiple regions outside the U.S and was followed by extortion demands, and in 2000, a disgruntled employee at an Australian water treatment plant hacked its computer system, resulting in 20,000 gallons of sewage being released into parks, rivers, and a hotel.
What’s really disturbing is that none of the three electric networks that make up the grid had any idea they’d been attacked. Security in this area needs to be beefed up and fast, and the Obama administration pledges to make that happen.
Naturally both China and Russia angrily deny any wrongdoing, but security officials say the sophistication of the attacks means it wasn’t an amateur job. The discovery of this attack follows the discovery of a Chinese cyber spy ring that had infiltrated thousands of computers across the globe, including those of several embassies and government offices. It really seems that in this day and age the new battlefield is the net and that we all need to be very very careful.
Read [Wall Street Journal]