DHS intel report downplayed cyber threat to power grid
Three months after a Department of Homeland Security intelligence report downplayed the threat of a cyber attack against the U.S. electrical grid, DHS and the FBI began a nationwide program warning of the dangers faced by U.S. utilities from damaging cyber attacks like the recent hacking against Ukraine’s power grid.
The nationwide campaign by DHS and the FBI began March 31 and includes 12 briefings and online webinars for electrical power infrastructure companies and others involved in security, with sessions in eight U.S. cities, including a session next week in Washington. Continue reading
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
If Russia wanted to, they likely could’ve powered America off yesterday. The United States has done almost next to nothing to shield it self from such an attack with the exception of putting out news reports by officials who state they’re working on a plan or ‘taking measures’ to ensure networks and infrastructure remain secure. Conducting a search here under ‘SCADA‘ will reveal just how vulnerable America really is — and that’s just one attack method of many needing to be guarded against.
A destructive “Trojan Horse” malware program has penetrated the software that runs much of the nation’s critical infrastructure and is poised to cause an economic catastrophe, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
National Security sources told ABC News there is evidence that the malware was inserted by hackers believed to be sponsored by the Russian government, and is a very serious threat. Continue reading
(Reuters) – A sophisticated hacking group recently attacked a U.S. public utility and compromised its control system network, but there was no evidence that the utility’s operations were affected, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
DHS did not identify the utility in a report that was issued this week by the agency’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team, or ICS-CERT. Continue reading
For further information on SCADAs, please see the following Global Geopolitics entries that were ahead of the curve:
- Security backdoor found in China-made US military chip
- UPDATE 3: U.S. probes cyber attack on water system
“Red Dragon Rising: Communist China’s Military Threat to America” from 1999 is a highly recommended read. The United States is in more vulnerable than most people know, and longer than most people would have thought.
Cyberspies linked to China’s military targeted nearly two dozen US natural gas pipeline operators over a recent six-month period, stealing information that could be used to sabotage US gas pipelines, according to a restricted US government report and a source familiar with the government investigation.
From December 2011 through June 2012, cyberspies targeted 23 gas pipeline companies with e-mails crafted to deceive key personnel into clicking on malicious links or file attachments that let the attackers slip into company networks, says the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report.
The report does not mention China, but the digital signatures of the attacks have been identified by independent cybersecurity researchers as belonging to a particular espionage group recently linked to China’s military.
The confluence of these factors – along with the sensitive operational and technical details that were stolen – make the cyberbreaches perhaps among the most serious so far, some experts say. The stolen information could give an adversary all the insider knowledge necessary to blow up not just a few compressor stations but perhaps many of them simultaneously, effectively holding the nation’s gas infrastructure hostage. Nearly 30 percent of the nation’s power grid now relies on natural gas generation.
“This theft of key information is about hearing the footsteps get closer and closer,” says William Rush, a retired scientist formerly with the Gas Technology Institute who chaired the effort to create a cybersecurity standard applicable to the gas pipeline industry.
“Anyone can blow up a gas pipeline with dynamite. But with this stolen information, if I wanted to blow up not one, but 1,000 compressor stations, I could,” he adds. “I could put the attack vectors in place, let them sit there for years, and set them all off at the same time. I don’t have to worry about getting people physically in place to do the job, I just pull the trigger with one mouse click.” Continue reading