At a Senate intelligence hearing earlier this month, the FBI declared that cyber attacks would soon surpass big bad, old-fashioned terrorism as the biggest threat to America. No big shocker there, intelligence officials have been saying as much since last year. But in private meetings at the White House, the NSA started to paint a picture of how that might become a reality.
The director of the National Security Agency warned that within a year or two, the hacktivist collective Anonymous may be capable of using cyber attacks to cause a temporary power outage by disrupting power supplies, reports the Wall Street Journal.
NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander hasn’t mentioned as much publicly, although he has issued warnings about the possibility of cyber attacks affecting computer networks. According to the Journal, any Anon-directed attack on the power grid is “likely to inflict limited damage.” However, the freakout potential should Anonymous take public credit is high.
Anonymous wouldn’t be the first to consider group to considering going after the grid. “Grid officials” (who knew there were such a thing?!) says they expend significant resources repelling existing attacks. Who would want to melt our ice cream (or cut off our traffic lights)? Russian and Chinese cyber spies have apparently been sniffing around computers that run the grid, says the paper.
“It’s a real threat,” said James Lewis, a cybersecurity specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who is currently researching the group. “You want to occupy Wall Street? How about turn Wall Street off? Even for a day.”
Eeeeee! Think of the high-frequency trading machines!
Embarrassing corporations or shaming government agencies that threaten the free flow of information is one thing, but the feds think Anonymous is about to get more disruptive. Last week, the hackers announced plans to shut down the Internet for Operation Global Blackout on March 31st. Security experts say the chances of them succeeding are low. But we think its more likely because without the Internet, how would Anon brag about their attacks on Twitter and Pastebin? That’s obvs their favorite part.