The possibility of a cyberattack on critical infrastructure such as America’s electric power worries National Security Agency (NSA) Director Admiral Michael Rogers, who told a cyber security conference that it’s a “matter of when, not if” hackers successfully attack America’s power grid.
The US eventually will suffer a cyber assault like the one that knocked out power in the Ukraine, Rogers told an audience at the RSA Conference in San Francisco in early March. During that attack hackers used the Black Energy cyber weapon to literally turn the lights out on more than 200,000 people across the region.
“Seven weeks ago it was the Ukraine,” Rogers said. “That isn’t the last we are going to see of this. That worries me.”
An attack on the power grid is not the only cybercrime that keeps Rogers from sleeping. He is also afraid of attacks that could cripple the nation’s financial institutions.
“What are going to do as a society when you go to your bank account, and the numbers don’t match what you think they should be?” Rogers asked, according to FedScoop.com. “What do you do if your business does financial transactions, and they don’t reflect what you are seeing?”
The threat, Rogers added, is significant enough that private industry and the government – two sides that normally don’t cooperate – should work together to address vulnerabilities.
“I believe in the power of industry and what we have seen in the valley over the last decade,” he said. “We’re spending a lot of time talking to each other about what we can’t do. In many ways, we’re just talking past each other.”
Such an agreement is “fundamental to the very construct of our nation,” he added.
“These issues are so fundamental and so important to us as a nation, that I believe our citizens need leaders to say, ‘This is acceptable to us and this is not,’” Rogers said, according to FedScoop.com. “There is no solution without risk, I acknowledge that. It’s about how we try to minimize that risk and be upfront with each other.”
Famed TV newsman Ted Koppel argues in his new book “Lights Out” that a cyberattack would leave the power grid down not for days but for weeks and months, resulting in millions of people dying due to mass starvation.