Cyberspies Hack U.S. Electrical Grid

    April 8, 2009

Chinese and Russian cyberspies have hacked into the U.S. electrical grid and have left behind software that could be used to interfere with the system, a report said Wednesday.

According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. intelligence officials said cyberspies had penetrated the system repeatedly last year, without damaging it. The officials warned they could try to disrupt it during a crisis or a war.

Stealth Attacks

"The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid," said a senior intelligence official. "So have the Russians."

The espionage occurred throughout the U.S. and does not appear to target a specific company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official.

"There are intrusions, and they are growing," the former official said, referring to the electrical systems. "There were a lot last year."

Investigators said they have found software tools left behind that could be used to destroy infrastructure components. "If we go to war with them, they will try to turn them on," the former intelligence official said.

Officials warned that water, sewage and other infrastructure systems were also at risk.

Protecting the electrical grid and other infrastructure is a key part of the Obama administration’s cybersecurity review, which is to be completed next week.