“CBS reports on 60 Minutes that a massive two-day power outage in Brazil’s 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.
Former Chief of US National Intelligence Retired Adm. Mike McConnell says that the ‘United States is not prepared for such an attack’ and believes it could happen in America. ‘If I were an attacker and wanted to do strategic damage to the United States, I would either take the cold of winter or the heat of summer,’ says McConnell, ‘I would probably sack electric power on the US East Coast, maybe the West Coast and attempt to cause a cascading effect.’ Congressman Jim Langevin says that US power companies need to be forced to deal with the issue after they told Congress they would take steps to defend their operations but did not follow up. ‘They admit that they misled Congress. The private sector has different priorities than we do in providing security. Their bottom line is about profits,’ says Langevin. ‘We need to change their motivation so that when see vulnerability like this, we can require them to fix it.’
McConnell adds that a similar attack to the one in Brazil is poised to take place on US soil and that it may take some horrific event to get the country focused on shoring up cyber security. ‘If the power grid was taken off line in the middle of winter and it caused people to suffer and die, that would galvanize the nation. I hope we don’t get there.'”