Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cyber Attacks Caused Brazil Power Outages

The oft discussed but mysterious cyber attack that caused a power outage is the focus of a 60 Minutes piece to be aired on November 8, 2009. In early 2008 CIA Officer Tom Donohue publicly stated,
We have information, from multiple regions outside the United States, of cyber intrusions into utilities, followed by extortion demands. We suspect, but cannot confirm, that some of these attackers had the benefit of inside knowledge. We have information that cyberattacks have been used to disrupt power equipment in several regions outside the United States. In at least one case, the disruption caused a power outage affecting multiple cities. We do not know who executed these attacks or why, but all involved intrusions through the Internet.
CBS News now says two of these attacks that caused blackouts occurred in Brazil. According to 60 Minutes
A series of power outages affecting millions of people in Brazil in 2005 and 2007 were the result of cyber attacks. The two-day event in Espirito Santo State affecting more than three million people in 2007 and another, smaller event in three cities north of Rio de Janeiro in January 2005 were perpetrated by hackers manipulating control systems.
I highly recommend that interested students check out the 60 Minutes episode.

1 comment:

Marshall said...

This report is shocking and completely eye-opening (whether or not it is a piece of true, objective journalism as debated between 60 minutes and El├ętricas). With reported attacks on the power grids in places outside of the United States, the fact remains that is only a matter time before hackers or terrorists become sophisticated and advanced enough to perform such an attack in the US. There is a definite possibility that they already have the technology to do so. An effective take down of a main power hub, or even what would seem like just a small piece of the power grid could prove devastating for America. This is not only a threat to the safety of our country, but its very livelihood. While the reports say they are able to attribute the power failures to cyber attacks, they are completely unable to identify those responsible. Imagine the worldwide chaos that could ensue if the American power grid were taken down and nobody knew who was responsible. As we saw in class, there are some who claim that hackers have already planted malware that could possibly allow them to gain access to the power grid controls. All of this reminds us of how real the threat of cyber attacks are and the huge threat that they pose not only to individuals, but possibly to entire nations and the world.