Hackers Target Power Plants

Homeland Security assembles cyber-response teams
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2010 3:31 AM CDT
Around 85% of critical US infrastructure is in the hands of private companies and security standards vary widely.   (AP Photo/Paul Foy)

(Newser) – Hackers worldwide have been stepping up efforts to break into the systems of power plants and other infrastructure, security experts say. The first malware specifically designed to attack the software used to control power grids was recently uncovered. The Department of Homeland Security has created teams of experts who can respond to cyber-emergencies at American facilities, many of which have major security weaknesses.

"People are recognizing that the ability to impact industrial control systems has increased, a Homeland Security official tells AP. "This type of malicious code and others we've seen recently are actually attacking the physical components, the devices that open doors, close doors, build cars and open gates." The Homeland Security teams have carried out dozens of assessments and been dispatched 13 times to deal with cyber-intrusions and other incidents, the official says.

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