US national security officials have reported that foreign cyberspies have penetrated the systems that control the U.S. electric grid putting the entire US infrastructure at risk. Software was discovered on the servers that control the flow of US electricity which could be launched remotely to bring down the countries electric grid. Taking down the countries electric grid could have a devastating impact especially during times of conflict or war.
Meanwhile, vandals in California took bolt-cutters to a primary fiber optic cable disrupting power and the Internet access to Silicon Valley for several hours. The vandals gained access to the cable through a manhole below a roadway. AT&T is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
These incidents combine to highlight vulnerabilities in the country’s electric grid and critical infrastructures both at the local level and at the national level. They come at a time when the Fed is working to beef up cybersecruity. Evaluating the safety of the nation’s electric grid and other critical infrastructures is a key component of the administration’s cybersecurity review due to be completed this week.
The Pentagon is well aware of the countries vulnerabilities in these areas. Military leaders recently stated that in the past six months, the Pentagon has spent over $100 million cleaning up after Internet attacks and network issues. Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, head of U.S. Strategic Command told reporters that the US is under assault by hackers ranging from bored teenagers to sophisticated nation-states. Military leaders are working to invest in safeguards against cyberattacks, rather than cleanup after cyberattacks. Legislation has been introduced that would create a new national cybersecurity czar whose job it would be to oversee the defense of national critical infrastructure.
Electricity Grid in U.S. Penetrated By Spies [Wall Street Journal]
Electric Grid Hack Shows Need for Real Security [NewsFactor]
China denies playing a role in ‘GhostNet’ cyberspy ring [Computerworld]
China denies cyberattacks on U.S. power grid [Computerworld]
Senators introduce bill to federalize cybersecurity [Ars Technica]