Top cybersecurity experts echoed a dire warning from a top intelligence chief on the vulnerability of the U.S. power grid, with one telling FoxNews.com that state-sponsored hackers could send America’s nerve centers on an “uncontrollable, downward spiral.”
Admiral Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, told lawmakers Thursday that adversaries of the U.S. conduct regular electronic reconnaissance to reveal weaknesses in America’s industrial control systems, ranging from power plants to sewage facilities. The nation’s entire power infrastructure could prove vulnerable to a crippling assault, should China or any of the other nations who sponsor such efforts find an Achilles’ heel and move to exploit it, he said.
Rogers was not exaggerating, according to experts.
“Unlike the recent headline attacks, which result in significant loss of data, attacking a nation state’s critical infrastructure requires persistence and long term discipline of not being detected. The scale and techniques required to do this exist in the military and intelligence functions of various world governments,” said Ron Gula, CEO of Columbia, Md.,-based Tenable Network Security.
Rogers told members of the House Intelligence Committee China along with “one or two” other countries have the capability to mount devastating cyber-attacks, and merely remaining on the defensive is a “losing strategy.” The possibility of such cyberattacks by U.S. adversaries has been widely known, but never confirmed publicly by the nation’s top cyber official.
Brian Ingram, cyber security investigator and owner of Consulting Investigation Services, headquartered in Dallas, called the assessment “dead on accurate.”
“China has, for years, participated in massive electronic probing of networks in the U.S.,” Ingram said. “The ability to conduct these network scans is not new, the sophistication of the newer methodologies is growing exponentially and our defenses, from the little made public or known to those in the industry, has not kept pace.”
There is a “huge risk” that America’s own power utilities could be turned into a weapon used against U.S. citizens and controlled from another land, said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute.
SOURCE: Malia Zimmerman