Electric Grid in US Penetrated by Spies

Published: 2009-04-08
Last Updated: 2009-04-08 20:17:17 UTC
by Joel Esler (Version: 2)
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Many readers sent this article in this morning.  Thanks to our readers!

According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, apparently, the U.S. Electrical Grid has been intruded upon by Spies from China, Russia, and "other countries".

Now for those of us in the security space, this should be nothing too terribly alarming.  We know this has happened before, in fact, I am quite sure we have written about it here on the Internet Storm Center.

According to a chart that is on the article, the number of reported cybersecurity breaches in the US has risen.  Now, I look at this graph and I say to myself, "number of reported", not "number of actual".  Meaning there were probably many more, and in previous years, not reported.  So I take that graph with a grain of salt.  However, it does make an important point. 

Security awareness is very high right now, and a lot of money is being spent on it, according to the article "under the Bush Administration, Congress approved $17 Billion in secret funds to defend govermnent networks.  The Obama Adminstration is weighing whether to expand the program to address vulnerabilities in private computer networks.." 

 Update:  Many people have written in today about this article either agreeing or disagreeing, however, I couple emails really stood out to me. 

One email stated that The power systems we have in place today are ran by Knobs and Switches.  Mostly built int he 70's and 80's, these power stations are mostly ran by manual intervention.  The power stations that _have_ been stood up since then, a couple of Nuclear Power stations, are federally regulated to not have any connections to anything, let alone the Internet. 

Since this particular email comes from a very trusted source, I am inclinded to believe this person.  Is it possible that there ARE computers in power stations that are connected to the Internet?  Yes, I am quite sure there are.  However, is it possible that the computer or computers (if there are any) that actually CONTROL the power are connected to the internet, I tend to not believe that.

-- Joel Esler http://www.joelesler.net

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