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US electricity grid hit by cyber attacks: report

Chinese and Russian cyber-spies have hacked into the US electricity grid and inserted programs that could be used to disrupt the system, a report said Wednesday.

world Updated: Apr 08, 2009 18:21 IST

Chinese and Russian cyber-spies have hacked into the US electricity grid and inserted programs that could be used to disrupt the system, a report said Wednesday.

Quoting unidentified intelligence sources and homeland security officials, the Wall Street Journal said cyber-spies penetrated the system repeatedly last year, without disrupting it.

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

Officials fear bugs have been sown in the system and could be used to disrupt the vital networks at a time of war or crisis.

Cybersecurity is seen by the US government as a major vulnerability, with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano naming it as one of at least 12 areas up for rapid policy review since she took office in January.

There are increasing fears that hackers could hijack computer systems which run critical infrastructure facilities, such as power plants, controlling them remotely and causing chaos inside the United States.

The US Defense Department has spent more than 100 million dollars in the past six months repairing the damage done by the cyber attacks General John Davis told AFP on Tuesday.

Davis, the deputy commander of the joint task force for global operations, warned cyber attacks posed an increasingly serious and costly threat to US government and commercial networks.

He called for more money to be poured into preventing attacks.

"It would be a much wiser investment of resources to do that in a pro-active manner so we were preventing these things from being able to get into our networks."