The commander of the U.S. Cyber Command warned Congress this week that Russia and China now can launch crippling cyberattacks on the electric grid and other critical infrastructures.
“We remain vigilant in preparing for future threats, as cyberattacks could cause catastrophic damage to portions of our power grid, communications networks and vital services,” Adm. Mike Rogers, the Cyber Command chief, told a Senate hearing. “Damaging attacks have already occurred in Europe,” he stated, noting suspected Russian cyberattacks that temporarily turned out the lights in portions of Ukraine.Adm. Rogers said that unlike other areas of military competition, Russia is equal to the United States in terms its cyberwarfare capabilities, with China a close second.
One can only imagine how much more the threat is multiplied because of the “patch and pray” culture America was warned about as early as 1998. Nobody in the industry cares until after the problem happens, then they stick a band-aid on it.
Potential to ‘take down’ U.S. power grids, water systems and other critical infrastructure
While experts have long signaled that the U.S. power grid and related systems are vulnerable to physical attacks by terrorists and other individuals, the U.S. government is now warning that sensitive computer systems that maintain the grid are increasingly being attacked, according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report that was not made public until the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) disclosed it this month.
These types of computer viruses are able to comb internal systems for private information in a clandestine manner; they can also be used to wrest control of certain computers away from their owners.
“In recent years, new threats have materialized as new vulnerabilities have come to light, and a number of major concerns have emerged about the resilience and security of the nation’s electric power system,” the report says. “In particular, the cyber security of the electricity grid has been a focus of recent efforts to protect the integrity of the electric power system.” Continue reading