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Cyber threats mount as Anonymous power grows

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The director of the National Security Agency (NSA) has issued a warning stating that the internet "hacktivist" group Anonymous could potentially be capable of creating a power outage in the next year or two through a cyber attack on the nation's power grid.

According to The Wall Street Journal, General Keith Alexander, director, gave his views on the subject at White House meetings and in private sessions, sources familiar with the gatherings say. Although he has not publicly announced his concerns, he has before warned that cyber attackers are showing a new ability to damage critical infrastructure, such as the electricity network.

The private warnings are a part of growing concern over the capabilities of Anonymous, a loosely knit global organization of computer programmers who have launched several cyber attacks against U.S. government and corporate entities, which have grabbed significant media attention.

The attacks have so far been fairly benign, aiming to embarrass companies and organizations rather than inflict damage. And although the group has never hinted it is planning a nationwide blackout, some federal officials believe Anonymous could move toward a more damaging position.

Some go so far as to say the time frame given by Alexander is gracious.

"The one-to-two-year timeframe does not make sense to me," Darren Hayes, CIS program chair at Pace University, told TechNewsWorld. "We have already witnessed hackers breaching utility company networks."

The news source states that if the potential attackers do indeed plan to have the capability to interrupt the U.S. electric grid in two years, the federal government will most likely have improved the system by such strides that an attack would be implausible.

In order to reach that point of cyber security, Congress is working to pass the Cyber Security Act of 2012, and other measures have already been created to help bolster power grid security. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have been created to develop cyber security standards for utilities, and are tasked with enforcing compliance with these standards.

SUBNET Solutions Inc. can help electrical utilities looking to maintain strong cyber security standards across their enterprise and substations by leveraging existing utility assets and incorporating established IT policies, rather than requiring such generation, transmission and distribution companies to replace or upgrade their hardware and software.

SUBNET helps implement plans for cyber security standards, addresses mandatory reliability standards for critical infrastructure and uses Microsoft solutions to manage NERC compliance. 

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