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Massive AP investigation concludes entire U.S. power grid could easily be brought down by foreign hackers

U.S. power grid
(NaturalNews) A silent war is escalating in the U.S., a war of hackers and cyber attackers. Enemies of the U.S. aren't preparing to invade militarily; they have all the intelligence they need to tear down the U.S. from within, using technology to take down America's power grid.

A massive AP investigation concluded that the entire U.S. power grid could be sabotaged by foreign hackers, leaving Americans with no light for an unspecified amount of time. With computer networks out and refrigeration shut down, most Americans wouldn't be able to work or eat, leaving the masses starving and fighting among themselves.

Security researcher Brian Wallace accidentally discovered this horrifying reality when he was tracking down hackers who had stolen a California university's housing files. He quickly learned that cyber hackers had found a way into the very networks that run the U.S. power grid, and that they had gained enough information to shut down electricity that millions of homes count on.

He discovered that the hackers had seized passwords and engineering drawings of multiple power plants spanning the U.S. The discovered cyber attack was carried out on Calpine Corp, an energy producer that supplies 82 plants in 18 states and Canada.

After conducting over 120 interviews and examining government reports and private analysis, cyber security experts believe that the amount of information taken is enough to allow skilled hackers to write malicious code to strike down the U.S. power grid at will. The latest breach has all the signs of originating from Iranian hackers. The breach, which started in August 2013, cannot be stopped completely and could still be occurring to this day.

"If the geopolitical situation changes and Iran wants to target these facilities, if they have this kind of information it will make it a lot easier," said Robert M. Lee, a former U.S. Air Force cyber warfare operations officer. "It will also help them stay quiet and stealthy inside."

This isn't the first major stealth attack on the U.S. energy sector. The well-publicized 2012 and 2013 Russian cyber attacks used encrypted commands to position interlopers within U.S. public utilities and power generators. Another supposed Russian group injected malware within the public utilities system so they could spy on U.S. energy companies.

Foreign hackers are taking advantage of an outdated power system that was never built with network security in mind. In fact, hackers have found many back doors into the system, using home solar panels and smart meters to shimmy their way in. Hackers also get in the system through contractors who sell software equipment to energy companies.

Security researcher Brian Wallace ultimately exposed the hackers' technique. They used Trojan horse-style software called TinyZbot to get backdoor access, and were able to take screen shots of the information they sought. Wallace traced the Internet Protocol addresses to Tehran and pinpointed a hacking group that had members in the Netherlands, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The Calpine breach is significant because hackers were able to steal user names and passwords that would allow them to remotely access Calpine's networks. At any moment, the hackers could break up communications networks, shut down generating stations, and cause blackouts near the power plants.

The hackers also took precise engineering drawings from 71 power stations spanning from New York to California. Having these drawings allows hackers to locate gas turbines and boilers inside the plants so they could potentially disrupt the communications and shut down power to millions.

The attack was intelligent, taking screen shots of user names and passwords that the hackers would need to bust through firewalls that were put in place to separate Calpine's operation networks, turbine controls and communications.

And the cyber attack didn't stop with Calpine. Wallace discovered that the attack stole information from the Israel Institute of Technology, the Pakistan International Airlines, the Mexican oil giant Pemex and the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

Sources include:

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