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Criminals have been able to hack into computer systems via the Internet and cut power to several cities, a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency analyst said this week.
Speaking at a conference of security professionals on Wednesday, CIA analyst Tom Donahue disclosed the recently declassified attacks while offering few specifics on what actually went wrong.
He said he thinks the attacks were launched from computers belonging to foreign governments or militaries, not terrorist groups.
Hackers Target U.S. Power Grid (2005)
Hundreds of times a day, hackers try to slip past cyber-security into the computer network of Constellation Energy Group Inc., a Baltimore power company with customers around the country.
"We have no discernable way of knowing who is trying to hit our system," said John R. Collins, chief risk officer for Constellation, which operates Baltimore Gas and Electric. "We just know it's being hit."
How to Take Down the Power Grid
The first time I broke into our country’s electrical power grid was a decade or so ago. Hacking into the control systems set up by utility companies wasn’t surprising then, and it isn’t surprising now. While people find this shocking, it really isn’t. When you think about how insecure computer infrastructures are, why would you think that the power grid would be any more secure? Frankly, the power grid is even less secure than most other computer networks. I wrote about it many times, including some details in my recent book, Spies Among Us.
All of this came back to me as I watched news stories about “Hackers Blow Up a Generator.” The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put out a video showing a test from Idaho Nuclear Laboratory where someone broke into a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) computer and caused the generator to run wild until it blew itself up.