Malware already in place to bring down entire U.S. infrastructure – sources

Monday, November 24, 2014
By Paul Martin

by: J. D. Heyes
Monday, November 24, 2014

Russia has placed a destructive “Trojan Horse” malware program in the software that operates most of America’s critical infrastructure, making it possible for Moscow to cause economic catastrophe throughout the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security has now warned.

The cyber operation is the modern-day equivalent of the Cold War’s concept of nuclear MAD — mutual assured destruction — because intelligence analysts believe the United States has likely achieved similar inroads into Russian (and likely Chinese) infrastructure.

However, the penetration of American financial infrastructure could be even more potentially devastating, considering that the U.S. financial and banking system and Wall Street provide the backbone for global trade, as part of the world’s largest economy. Also, the U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency; any disruption of the American economic system would likely cause a dollar collapse and lead to global financial pandemonium.

‘No random attack’

In addition to having major financial implications, national security sources and intelligence analysts note that the malware has also penetrated other vital infrastructure — that which is used to “control complex industrial operations like oil and gas pipelines, power transmission grids, water distribution and filtration systems, wind turbines and even some nuclear plants,” ABC News reported. Shutting any of these vital systems down could adversely impact millions of Americans, and could even lead to destruction and death.

In a bulletin, DHS warned that the Russia-sponsored hacking attack has been continuous since 2011, though no attempt has yet been made to activate the malware to “damage, modify, or otherwise disrupt” America’s industrial and infrastructure control processes. As such, though American intelligence agencies and the Obama Administration have only recently been made aware of the breach, no one knows where or when the malware could be activated.

“DHS sources told ABC News they think this is no random attack and they fear that the Russians have torn a page from the old, Cold War playbook, and have placed the malware in key U.S. systems as a threat, and/or as a deterrent to a U.S. cyber-attack on Russian systems — mutually assured destruction,” the network reported on its website.

Intelligence community insiders learned about the penetration in late October; at that time, DHS’ Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team issued an alert bulletin to industry members outlining the breach. The bulletin reported that the “BlackEnergy” penetration was detected by several private industrial firms recently.

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