In response to our posting Malware – Life Imitates Art, one of our followers directed our attention to the first season of the popular CBS series, NCIS. In Seadog, season 1, episode 3, the team is called upon to investigate the death of a Naval Officer whose body has washed ashore. The investigation begins as a routine drug case. As the plot evolves, the investigation uncovers cyber warfare directed at the nation’s power grid. Fortunately, Gibbs and the team foil the plot at the last second.
The 2003 fictional attack on the US power grid is now reality as reported by the Wall Street Journal on April 8, 2009. The article, entitled Electricity Grid in U.S. Penetrated by Spies, describes ongoing attacks on the infrastructure of the United States.
Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.
The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven’t sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.
“The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid,” said a senior intelligence official. “So have the Russians.”
The article describes a 2008 cyber attack that was part of an extortion plot. The attack took out power equipment in multiple regions of the United States.
Cyber warfare is real. Spearphishing is a frequent point of entry into critical systems.