Lights Out: NSA Director Says China Could Shut Down Electric Grid in Parts of US

Leah Barkoukis
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Posted: Nov 20, 2014 7:30 PM
Lights Out: NSA Director Says China Could Shut Down Electric Grid in Parts of US

When we think about security threats facing the nation, the vulnerability of our nation’s power grids doesn’t exactly keep most Americans up at night. But should it? According to the head of the NSA, China and “one or two” other countries could essentially shut parts of the country down.

Via Fox News:

The grim forecast came from Admiral Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of the U.S .Cyber Command.

Rogers said he believed China along with “one or two” other countries had the capability to successfully launch a cyber-attack that could shut down the electric grid in parts of the United States.

Rogers reiterated that if the U.S. remains on the defensive, it would be a “losing strategy.”

Speaking to the House Intelligence Committee, the NSA director said the cyber threat was “so real,” and that agreeing to an international code, a sort of “laws of law” in the cyber realm is urgent.

The possibility of such cyberattacks by U.S. adversaries has been widely known, but never confirmed publicly by the nation's top cyber official.

At a House hearing, Rogers says U.S. adversaries are performing electronic "reconnaissance," on a regular basis so that they can be in a position to attack the industrial control systems that run everything from chemical facilities to water treatment plants.

Outside experts say the U.S. Cyber Command also has that capability, which in theory should amount to mutual deterrence.

“Despite their great size and internal complexity [high voltage] transformers can be readily disabled or destroyed,” the Congressional Research Service said in a June report that quoted one manufacturer as saying such a task would be “surprisingly simple.”