Anonymous Could Shutter Power Grid: NSA Honcho

Ability to launch attack is still a few years off, though

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 21, 2012 9:39 AM CST

(Newser) – Hacking collective Anonymous has taken on the FBI and the CIA, among others—and soon the group could be making its presence known in your living room. The National Security Agency director warns that within the next one to two years, Anonymous could launch a cyberattack that results in a limited power outage, the Wall Street Journal reports. Gen. Keith Alexander did not air his concerns in public, but in private meetings including some at the White House, sources say. Other officials are similarly concerned, but some think the possibility is more like three to five years off.

Anonymous has never mentioned a power blackout plan, but federal officials believe the group is planning to get more destructive, particularly after Anonymous threatened last week to shut down the Internet during "Operation Global Blackout" on March 31. Experts believe the likelihood of such an attack to be low; similarly, an attack on the power grid would produce only limited damage. Grid officials are already adept at fighting regular attacks on their systems, and backup systems are in place in case an attack is successful. One possibility discussed by officials: A foreign government or terrorist group could develop the ability to attack the grid, then outsource the job to Anonymous.

This picture taken on February 3, 2012 shows a photograph of the Greek ministry of justice website, hacked by Anonymous.
This picture taken on February 3, 2012 shows a photograph of the Greek ministry of justice website, hacked by Anonymous.   (Getty Images)
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