(Cyberwar.news) Iran is believed to be the latest country to have hacked the U.S. power grid, underscoring the continued vulnerability of the nation’s power infrastructure to cyber attack.
As reported by Breitbart News, an investigation into the hacking of housing files at the University of California-Santa Barbara, led cybersecurity researcher Brian Wallace to also discover that Iranian hackers were behind that breach as well.
His findings, as well as a series of data breaches at energy grids and power stations, eventually led The Associated Press to conduct a broad investigation: The conclusion is that the Islamic Republic of Iran likely has the capability to attack the U.S. internally, using highly detailed and sensitive information some Iranians may have gathered on the U.S. power grid as a result of the hacks.
“If the geopolitical situation changes and Iran wants to target these facilities, if they have this kind of information it will make it a lot easier,” Robert M. Lee, a former U.S. Air Force cyberwarfare operations officer told the AP. “It will also help them stay quiet and stealthy inside.”
In addition, according to the AP investigation, during the Calpine breach – which experts think began around August 2013 and could still be ongoing – hackers were able to steal detailed engineering drawings of 71 power systems and stations from coast to coast.
Bits of comments made in Farsi – the dominant Iranian language – in the code likely helped cybersecurity researchers to conclude that Iran was the source of the hacks. The information Iranian hackers obtained included usernames and passwords that could be employed to shut down power generating stations and cause widespread blackouts.
The problem is two-fold: An outdated power grid that has been increasingly controlled via the Internet for a decade.
U.S. officials understand the risk. Earlier this year, Deputy Energy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood Randall revealed that if America doesn’t “protect the energy sector, we are putting every other sector of the economy in peril.”
As for Iran, it has an axe to grind with the U.S., for becoming the first country targeted by Washington for a cyberattack. As The New York Times reported in June 2012, Iran’s nuclear weapons infrastructure became the target of the first sustained American-led cyber assault, which essentially involved introducing a malicious code – Stuxnet – into the computerized uranium enrichment process.