Shocker! Russian and Chinese cyberspies have hacked into the U.S. electrical grid
BY Corky Siemaszko DAILY NEW STAFF WRITERS
Wednesday, April 8th 2009, 1:54 PM
The fear is that cyberspies will use their access to take down the system.
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Russian and Chinese spies have infiltrated our electrical sockets.
Cyberspies from these and other countries have hacked into the U.S. electrical grid and planted bugs that could be switched on to disrupt the system, according to a published report.
"The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid," a senior intelligence official told the Wall Street Journal. "So have the Russians."
While neither country has attempted to short circuit the system, the fear is that in time of war their hackers could hijack computer systems which run power plants and other key installations - and cause widespread chaos.
"There are intrusions, and they are growing," a former Department of Homeland Security official told Wednesday's paper. "There were a lot last year."
The Obama Administration is already taking steps to improve cybersecurity and government experts are developing ways to quickly trace attacks to their source.Home grown hackers, ranging from bored teenagers to kooks with their own twisted motivations, have already done hundreds of millions in damage to government systems, officials said.
"It often takes weeks and sometimes months of subsequent investigation," National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair told a Senate subcommittee last month. "And even at the end of very long investigations you're not quite sure" who launched them.
Blair also warned that terrorists "are interested in using cyberweapons, just the way they're interested in using most any weapon they can use against us."
The chances of that happening, however, are remote, he said.
"It is a concern, but right now I'd say their capability is low," Blair said. "I think the more spectacular attacks that kill a lot of people on very publicly is what they are looking for."
While the Russians and Chinese deny cyberspying on the U.S., a top security expert said America has been waging a virtual cloak-and-dagger war against them for years.
"They're doing it to us, we're doing it to them," Bruce Schneier, a security expert and chief security technology officer at British Telecom, told The Daily News.
Schneier agreed that "our infrastructure needs better cyber security." But he said "our power system is much more vulnerable to mistakes than anything."
The best known cyber attack was in 2000 when a disgruntled worker sabotaged the computerized control system at an Australian water treatment plant so that it spilled more than 200,000 gallons of sewage.
"And it that case, he was an insider who knew how the system worked," said Schneier.