If you didn’t have enough to worry about between hurricane season, North Korea and the Republican establishment, a new threat to America has emerged — hackers have officially gained direct access to power grid controls across the country.
IN AN ERA of hacker attacks on critical infrastructure, even a run-of-the-mill malware infection on an electric utility’s network is enough to raise alarm bells. But the latest collection of power grid penetrations went far deeper: Security firm Symantec is warning that a series of recent hacker attacks not only compromised energy companies in the US and Europe but also resulted in the intruders gaining hands-on access to power grid operations—enough control that they could have induced blackouts on American soil at will.
Symantec on Wednesday revealed a new campaign of attacks by a group it is calling Dragonfly 2.0, which it says targeted dozens of energy companies in the spring and summer of this year. In more than 20 cases, Symantec says the hackers successfully gained access to the target companies’ networks. And at a handful of US power firms and at least one company in Turkey—none of which Symantec will name—their forensic analysis found that the hackers obtained what they call operational access: control of the interfaces power company engineers use to send actual commands to equipment like circuit breakers, giving them the ability to stop the flow of electricity into US homes and businesses.
“There’s a difference between being a step away from conducting sabotage and actually being in a position to conduct sabotage … being able to flip the switch on power generation,” says Eric Chien, a Symantec security analyst. “We’re now talking about on-the-ground technical evidence this could happen in the US, and there’s nothing left standing in the way except the motivation of some actor out in the world.”
This deeply concerning news comes amid North Korea threatening an EMP attack against the U.S. In an interview with Breitbart News, author Anthony Furey explains why the threat could dramatically increase tensions between North Korea and the U.S.
Breibart News reports:
According to the Associated Press, shortly after North Korea launched its sixth nuclear test using an H-bomb, the “Hermit Kingdom’s” leader Kim Jong-un issued a statement through its state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) claiming the weapon “is a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack according to strategic goals.”
[…]An NEMP is an abrupt pulse of electromagnetic radiation that occurs as a result of a nuclear explosion. An NNEMP is virtually the same except it does not include the nuclear component. The currents caused by these charges the atmosphere with electromagnetic waves that travel down onto the earth’s surface at super speeds hitting everything within their line of sight, sending high-voltage energy through the electricity grid and frying them, causing massive disarray.
Anthony Furey’s book Pulse Attack: The Real Story Behind the Secret Weapon That Can Destroy North America is the first of its kind to outline the A-Z effects of a potential EMP attack on North America. The book also presents several simple and straightforward ways North America can protect against such a devastating scenario.
[…]“I wrote the book and of course it talks about how this could be a possibility for North America,” Furey told Breitbart News. “But I would have always preferred that not be true. And then I read the statement and my jaw just dropped.”
North America’s grid is currently not protected against an EMP disruption or attack. Furey told Breitbart News that this recent statement from North Korea will likely increase public interest in the potential for an EMP attack. “And politics is, of course, downstream from culture. It will change the way we look at the issue culturally because for a long time there were people who were dismissive of it” by downplaying the probability of an EMP attack.