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The U.S. government believes cyber attackers from Russia and China recently monitored the U.S. power grid infrastructure

A former U.S. government official disclosed that foreign-based hackers reportedly hacked U.S. electric utility computer networks, installing software that could disrupt power grids.

It appears that there wasn't any actual damage done, though it's possible the attack could have been a possible information gathering mission for future cyber attacks against U.S. infrastructure.

"The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid," a senior intelligence official told the Wall Street Journal recently.  "So have the Russians."

There is growing concern regarding the amount of cyber attacks originating from China and Eastern Europe, with many organized attacks that are possibly government-sanctioned.

"Over the past several years, we have seen cyberattacks against critical infrastructures abroad, and many of our own infrastructures are as vulnerable as their foreign counterparts," the Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said to politicians.  "A number of nations, including Russia and China, can disrupt elements of the U.S. information infrastructure."

This report will again put pressure on politicians and cyber security experts to help secure the U.S. power grid and other infrastructure that could be targeted by cyber attacks.  Security firm IOActive recently issued a report stating it'd be possible to manipulate smart meters with equipment costing $500 and proper training.

Furthermore, Chinese-led attacks, despite Chinese government officials claiming it's just political posturing, continues to be a major threat to government computers, university networks, contractor systems, and U.S. power infrastructure.

The Pentagon reportedly has spent upwards of $100 million to help repair cyber attack damage caused both by curious computer geeks and government-led hacking rings.  The situation is worrisome because China understands they have the ability to exploit possible cyber vulnerabilities whenever they wish against the U.S. and other cyber nations.

President Barack Obama, understanding the nation could face numerous cyber issues in the future, ordered a 30-day cyber review that should be done in the next few weeks.  The country's strategy on dealing with cyber threats will likely come together after the cyber review is completed.

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Getting out of control
By omnicronx on 4/9/2009 10:48:06 AM , Rating: 3
This is getting ridiculous, the Chinese won't even acknowledge this is happening. Makes me wonder how much longer the rest of the world is going to take this abuse before they cut them out all together. I mean what exactly does China and Russia give back to the internet aside from pirated software, and hackers for hire. I go to sites from around the world all the time, (even different languages via translator) but I don't think I have retrieved any useful information or services from either country, ever...

RE: Getting out of control
By smackababy on 4/9/2009 11:00:28 AM , Rating: 3
It is my understanding Blizzard is already banning Chinese IP accounts form World of Warcraft.

I also do not see the reason why the power grid is even accessable online. Why isn't it in a closed network?

RE: Getting out of control
By FITCamaro on 4/9/2009 11:52:17 AM , Rating: 1
I believe they're on a more closed network but if there's any way in, people will find it. But I don't think that things like the control systems for a nuclear power plant are something you can just log in and mess with via the internet.

RE: Getting out of control
By jadeskye on 4/9/2009 12:07:02 PM , Rating: 5

the login is : Admin
the password is: Password

RE: Getting out of control
By Sotsu on 4/9/2009 8:30:05 PM , Rating: 2
If they're anything like water departments, also government ran, it wouldn't be too hard.

I've a family friend that works for the Nashville Metro Water Department who's capable of simply remoting into her machines (workstation/servers/etc) from the ease of her home. If a water department is able to be accessed from the home I wouldn't see why energy departments would be much harder.

Course, now I how hard it'd be to run encrypted tunnels between sites over the expanse that is the internet.

RE: Getting out of control
By Murloc on 4/9/2009 11:07:24 AM , Rating: 2
because of course, you can't read chinese or russian.

anyway anti-missile shields are useless if they can just shut down a nation even if only for 4 hours. The economic damage would be huge.
Or maybe they just collect information to know where to hit.
US has got many satellites, they don't need to hack foreign power grids.

RE: Getting out of control
By omnicronx on 4/9/2009 12:39:15 PM , Rating: 2
because of course, you can't read chinese or russian.
As I already stated, I use Google's translator feature all the time.

RE: Getting out of control
By geddarkstorm on 4/9/2009 2:25:42 PM , Rating: 2
And you trust it to be accurate enough, especially with difficult languages like Chinese, to not drop out important information and mistranslate? I dunno about you, but I've been quite disappointed with all on-line translators, including google's, though it's the best I've found. Maybe you are still right, but stuff read with google translator is about as reliable as a children's book explaining cosmology.

RE: Getting out of control
By jtemplin on 4/13/2009 12:00:14 PM , Rating: 2
You mean time dilation isn't what happens when Jesus sees his optometrist?

My whole life, I've been living a lie...

By Mojo the Monkey on 4/9/2009 12:18:14 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting observation. I wonder, however, how much of this goes on with our guys (be it at whatever secret sub-branch of some secret agency) pulling the same hack jobs over there.

I would imagine that these other countries would not be as open to disclosing that their vital systems have been breached, likely as a matter of national pride.

RE: Getting out of control
By tastyratz on 4/9/2009 1:25:59 PM , Rating: 4
Everyone knows they both contribute to the internet.

Russia supplies America with Brides to be ordered.
China supplies Ebay with counterfit electronics

Actually we get attacked all the time digitally in sensitive areas which costs us money... at what point is this different from them physically blowing a hole in a wall at the pentagon?

This is a digital world, and this is waging digital war if you ask me.

Direct Attack.
By FastangLX on 4/9/2009 11:51:54 AM , Rating: 3
IMO (and take that for what it is worth) this is a direct attack on the USA by a foreign country. How is dropping a software payload on our grid any different than planting explosives on a building with a remote detonator? This is a malicious, flagrant attack on US domestic interests and what is our government doing besides being "deeply concerned"? Apparently 100 million dollars isn't enough to keep the grid safe and secure.

RE: Direct Attack.
By ZachDontScare on 4/9/2009 1:34:05 PM , Rating: 2
I completely agree - Its not any different.

I hope...
By Moishe on 4/9/2009 10:48:00 AM , Rating: 3
I hope the US cleans up its act and gets things secure. If the government can't do its primary job of protecting itself against foreign invaders we're screwed if we ever get into a conflict with anyone who has the means to bring our internal stuff offline.

By Mitch101 on 4/9/2009 9:37:14 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't see any mention of John McClane aka Bruce Willis in the article who thwarted the intrusions.

By sprockkets on 4/9/2009 10:46:36 AM , Rating: 2
Can we take the grid off the "grid"? Can't it just prevent access by default to ips from other countries?

Think About It...
By DiscipleOfJobs on 4/9/2009 11:49:53 AM , Rating: 2
Reptar and that moth!? Holy man-alive its like I'm spinning the the doodoo bowl. Honestly though, do you know what it's like to have 10 million volts of electricity running through your body? Call Lester, he'll tell you.

By PhoenixKnight on 4/9/2009 2:03:01 PM , Rating: 2
"Spy's sapping my electrical grid!"

Getting Out of Control
By plowak on 4/9/2009 6:04:41 PM , Rating: 2
"Why can't we all just be friends?"

By BailoutBenny on 4/9/2009 7:22:50 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmmm, me thinks that we are starting to witness the propoganda machine spooling up for the latest cyber security bill the democrats want pushed through congress. You know, the bill that will give the president the authority over the entire internet and allow the department of commerce to circumvent the normal laws regarding soebpena for information on users and their activities?

Similar to the WMD hysteria that was whipped up to invade Iraq and all the terrorist nonsense that was exaggerated to take away our freedoms with the PATRIOT act, now it's cyber threats that are trying to be the next big hoopla. Hopefully people will see this for the bull sh*t it is.

I don't think this is the last we will hear of this.

By itzmec on 4/9/2009 7:26:10 PM , Rating: 2
sounds like its just propaganda to me.

Shame on DT
By fri2219 on 4/10/2009 3:15:49 PM , Rating: 2
For re-posting that Murdoch crap. I realize DailyTech is a scrape site, but c'mon, show a little responsibility or at least an understanding of the material. Your links are getting to be as stupid as the comments.

Here's what an intelligent post on the subject would have looked like:

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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