15 April, 2009

Cyber spies have infiltrated the US

WASHINGTON — Foreign spies have infiltrated the US electrical grid, leaving behind software programs that could disrupt the system in a time of war, American national security officials have claimed.

The intruders from countries including China and Russia, were believed to be attempting to map the US electrical system and work out how it was controlled, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal.

Officials said the cyber spies had not tried to damage the grid, but warned they could during a crisis or war. “The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid,” a senior intelligence official told the paper. “So have the Russians.”

The intrusion spread across the country and did not target any specific companies or regions, a former Department of Homeland Security official said.

Several of the intrusions were detected by US intelligence agencies and not by the companies in charge of the infrastructure, the officials said.

The breaches come as concern grows among the intelligence community over cyber attackers taking control of electrical facilities, a nuclear power plant or financial networks via the Internet.

More worrying was the discovery that the cyber spies had left behind software tools that could be used to destroy infrastructure components, the senior intelligence official said. He told the Wall Street Journal: “If we go to war with them, they will try to turn them on.”

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair recently told politicians: “A number of nations, including Russia and China, can disrupt elements of the US information infrastructure.”

The sophisticated cyber intrusions suggest China and Russia, say cyber security specialists. Terrorist groups have yet to mount such an attack, although they could develop the ability to do so. Russian and Chinese officials have denied any involvement.

The Daily Telegraph

From TODAY, World – Thursday, 09-April-2009