Washington (CNN) — China and “probably one or two other” countries have the capacity to shut down the nation’s power grid and other critical infrastructure through a cyber attack, the head of the National Security Agency told a Congressional panel Thursday.
Admiral Michael Rogers, who also serves the dual role as head of U.S. Cyber Command, said the United States has detected malware from China and elsewhere on U.S. computers systems that affect the daily lives of every American.
“It enables you to shut down very segmented, very tailored parts of our infrastructure that forestall the ability to provide that service to us as citizens,” Rogers said in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.
Rogers said such attacks are part of the “coming trends” he sees based on “reconnaissance” currently taking place that nation-states, or other actors may use to exploit vulnerabilities in U.S. cyber systems.
A recent report by Mandiant, a cyber-security firm, found that hackers working on behalf of the Chinese government were able to penetrate American public utility systems that service everything from power generation, to the movement of water and fuel across the country.
“We see them attempting to steal information on how our systems are configured, the very schematics of most of our control systems, down to engineering level of detail so they can look at where are the vulnerabilities, how are they constructed, how could I get in and defeat them,” Rogers said. “We’re seeing multiple nation-states invest in those kinds of capabilities.”
In addition to nation-state actors, Admiral Rogers noted the increasing presence of “surrogate” criminal actors in cyberspace that serve to obscure the hidden hand of criminal activity done on behalf of formal nation-states.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, the retiring chairman of the committee, called the groups “cyber hit men for hire” for nation-state actors in cyberspace.
Full article: The U.S. government thinks China could take down the power grid (CNN)