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.