“If Americans don’t want to be fighting over water bottles though, action is needed to avoid catastrophe. Hopefully Mandiant’s report will act as a loudspeaker, turning Team Obama’s cyber security squeak into a shout, and opening the doors for more public conversation about these threats.”
What it also mentioned (almost in passing) was the penetration of American energy structures, what most people call “critical infrastructure.” Exploiting the aging electrical grid, in a cyber-military strike, has been a growing concern of planners in the U.S. Government.
Yet hackers don’t normally headline talk of aging grids.
Late last year we covered how Boeing had developed an EMP missile, capable of flying over a city and permanently zapping its electrical structure. While that might not be the most likely candidate for an assault on the American grid, it further legitimized electrical grids as potential targets.
It seemed like loss of proprietary, corporate information trumped the news headlines, but the Mandiant report also showed that it’s not EMPs which truly threaten America’s grid.
It’s software exploits, particularly from the Chinese military.
A Department of Homeland Security official told the WSJ in 2010 that network inspections had “found software tools left behind that could be used to destroy infrastructure components,” following hacks from Russia and China.
From the report:
“The physical damage of certain system components (e.g. extra-high-voltage transformers) on a large scale, as could be effected by any of these threats, could result in prolonged outages as procurement cycles for these components range from months to years.”