CIA fears hacked power grid (and CSoD)

Who turned out the lights? It's IT Blogwatch: in which the CIA warns of hackers out to disrupt electrical power grids around the world. Not to mention a code snippet of the day...

Robert McMillan reports:

Criminals have been able to hack into computer systems via the Internet and cut power to several cities, [said] CIA analyst Tom Donahue [who] disclosed the recently declassified attacks while offering few specifics on what actually went wrong. Criminals have launched online attacks that disrupted power equipment in several regions outside of the U.S., he said, without identifying the countries affected. The goal of the attacks was extortion. [more]

Andy Greenberg adds:

Cyber-security experts have long warned of the vulnerability of critical infrastructure like power, transportation and water systems ... In recent months, security researchers have emphasized long-standing security vulnerabilities in the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems that control U.S. critical infrastructure. [more]

Here's Darren Murph's law: [You're fired -Ed.]

We know, hackers tend to get a pretty bad rap these days, but with some of 'em out there creating ginormous gridlocks in Los Angeles and shutting down networks in enemy territories, we sort of understand the sentiment ... Donahue ... failed to dole out critical details such as where or when the attacks occurred nor how many folks were actually left in the dark ... Don't worry guys, we're faxing CTU right now, they'll be right on it within 72 business hours. [more]

Mark Wilson begins with a subtle pun:

Current Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems ... are sadly out of date ... vulnerabilities are leading to major electronic extortion of utility companies, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars ... I'm just hoping that said hackers live next door to me, and that therefore my power is safe and sound. [more]

baileydau pitches in from dununda:

Here in Australia, the power generation company (at least in my state) does have its own control network ... an attack from the Internet should never happen to something as important as this ... [but] US power companies (as are most in Australia) are privately owned, so they don't have to worry about such trivial things as security rules. [more]

But David McBride thinks, "Something smells":

Why are we hearing about this from the CIA, of all places? I thought counter-intelligence was the purview of the FBI, and signals intelligence the role of the NSA. Now add the fact that the US Director of National Intelligence has indicated that he wants to obtain the ability to monitor all Internet traffic data ... This all just sounds like an excuse to install packet loggers everywhere. [more]

Dotan Cohen agrees:

I was in the US just two weeks ago. The airport was at security level 4 out of 5 ... [so] the officers are authorized to perform 'checks' and other violations of the rights that I know Americans used to hold dear. This ... temporary situation has been in effect for over four years ... things have changed since 1999 (last time I was there). People are now scared. People want their government to invade their lives ... I was thinking of Winston Smith the whole time. [more]

Color subl33t cynical:

Just in time for US Federal elections. Coincidence? [more]

And finally...

Buffer overflow:

Other Computerworld bloggers:

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 22 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You too can pretend to be Richi's friend...

Richi's Facebook profile

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon