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House Homeland Security chairman warns hackers will target U.S. power grid


Hackers

(NaturalNews) In his 2010 book, Cyber War, Richard Clarke -- a national security expert for several presidential administrations and the nation's first cyber security czar -- warned that the country's Internet-based, electronically controlled infrastructure was at risk.

He said then that both state and non-state actors had developed the capability to hack into U.S. government and private-sector systems and cause a level of destruction never before seen.

Now, years later -- and after the U.S. government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on defending the country -- experts are still warning that the nation's cyber-connected infrastructure, and especially U.S. power grids, remains vulnerable.

As reported by the Washington Examiner, the House cybersecurity chairman warned recently that hackers for nation-states like Iran, North Korea, China and others could potentially launch attacks at power grids, Wall Street financial centers and the federal government's various systems.

The Washington Examiner further reported:

Rep. Patrick Meehan, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, said the Sony attack and potential for a more widespread Internet invasion by U.S. enemies demands that President Obama sign pending cybersecurity legislation into law and look to other efforts to protect homegrown technology.

Power grids are especially vulnerable

That legislation was passed in mid-December, before House and Senate members left town for the holidays.

"The attack on Sony is the latest high-profile example of the growing danger of the cyber threat, and it won't be the last," said the Pennsylvania lawmaker.

"American businesses, financial networks, government agencies and infrastructure systems like power grids are at continual risk," he continued. "They're targeted not just by lone hackers and criminal syndicates, but by well-funded nation-states like North Korea and Iran. A lack of consequences for when nation states carry out cyberattacks has only emboldened these adversaries to do more harm."

Meehan co-authored the National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act. It was passed in a bipartisan fashion, along with a measure strengthening the federal government's cybersecurity workforce.

"The attack on Sony shows the dire need to upgrade our cyber defenses [NB: reports now indicate a company insider may actually have been responsible for the Sony attack, but that should not diminish the very real danger that hackers pose to U.S. infrastructure]. We need to ease the sharing of threat information between government and the private sector and strengthen our ability to prevent and respond to attacks," said Meehan, who added: "Congress took important steps last week by passing bipartisan legislation that builds our cyber defense capabilities -- it's time for those bills to be signed into law and implemented."

As to who was possibly responsible for Sony, The Daily Caller reported:

"Sony was not just hacked, this is a company that was essentially nuked from the inside," cybersecurity firm Norse's senior vice president Kurt Stammberger told CBS this week. "We are very confident that this was not an attack master-minded by North Korea and that insiders were key to the implementation of one of the most devastating attacks in history."

"I worry more about the Russians"

Smaller states like Iran and North Korea may indeed present hacking threats to the U.S., but China and Russia present larger ones:

-- In October, The Washington Post reported that the FBI had issued a warning to private-sector businesses and industries that Chinese hackers were in the midst of a long-running campaign to illicitly obtain data from U.S. companies and government agencies.

"These state-sponsored hackers are exceedingly stealthy and agile by comparison with the People's Liberation Army Unit 61398... whose activity was publicly disclosed and attributed by security researchers in February 2013," said the FBI in its alert

-- Russia actually poses a bigger cyber threat. The Wall Street Journal also reported in October that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the nation's spy chief, said he worries more about Moscow than Beijing.

"I worry a lot more about the Russians," Clapper said during an intelligence forum at the University of Texas in Austin. His comments came on the heels of a major hack of financial giant J.P. Morgan's computer networks, which was traced to Russian hackers (though it wasn't clear if they were connected to the government).

Sources:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com

http://dailycaller.com

http://www.washingtonpost.com

http://blogs.wsj.com

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