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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Coincidental Timing On News About Cyber Threat To U.S Electrical Grids

In January of 2008 we saw reports of electrical grids, in multiple cities outside the U.S., having been hacked into and outages caused.

Today we see reports that electrical grids in the U.S. have been hacked into, leaving behind software which could disrupt the entire system. While the "spies" have not attempted to interrupt our electrical system yet, officials warn that during a major crisis or war, they could.

"The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid," said a senior intelligence official. "So have the Russians."

The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn't target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official. "There are intrusions, and they are growing," the former official said, referring to electrical systems. "There were a lot last year.

Many of the intrusions were detected not by the companies in charge of the infrastructure but by U.S. intelligence agencies, officials said. Intelligence officials worry about cyber attackers taking control of electrical facilities, a nuclear power plant or financial networks via the Internet.

Authorities investigating the intrusions have found software tools left behind that could be used to destroy infrastructure components, the senior intelligence official said. He added, "If we go to war with them, they will try to turn them on."

Officials said water, sewage and other infrastructure systems also were at risk.

Former and current officials admit that we are as vulnerable as other countries to this type of cyber attack.

Other information contained in the Wall Street Journal report, include, but is not limited to:

*In the past 6 months, the Pentagon has spent $100 million repairing cyber damages.

*Under Bush Congress approved $17 billion in secret funds to protect government networks.

*Obama administration is deciding whether to expand that program which would sot billions more.

The sophistication of the U.S. intrusions -- which extend beyond electric to other key infrastructure systems -- suggests that China and Russia are mainly responsible, according to intelligence officials and cybersecurity specialists. While terrorist groups could develop the ability to penetrate U.S. infrastructure, they don't appear to have yet mounted attacks, these officials say.

Read the whole article.

It isn't just our electrical grids at risk though, some might remember in late November 2008, there was an attack on military computers, affecting a highly classified network, a U.S. Central Command which oversees our military in combat zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan as well as affecting computers in those combat zones.

Last thoughts on this for now include the coincidental timing of this news being released, just days after reports show that two controversial bills are being proposed which would give Barack Obama unprecedented power to shut down our Internet systems.

Federal legislation introduced in the Senate this week would give President Obama the power to declare a cybersecurity emergency and then shut down both public and private networks including Internet traffic coming to and from compromised systems.

The proposed legislation, introduced April 1, also would give the President the power to “order the disconnection of any Federal government or United States critical infrastructure information systems or networks in the interest of national security.”

More on those bills from WebProNews.