Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

1/19/2008
03:09 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

Hackers Threaten Power Grid. FERC Strengthens Security Standards

While I enjoyed the first two Bruce Willis Die Hard movies, Live Free or Die Hard was a different story. The coordinated, near simultaneous cyberattacks of the power grid, financial systems, government databases, and media satellites was so over-the-top that I couldn't suspend my disbelief long enough to enjoy the movie. Maybe that's because I've long been suspicious of the terms cyberterrorism and cyberwarfare. In fact, the threats of thunderstorms, tornadoes, and overgrown trees

While I enjoyed the first two Bruce Willis Die Hard movies, Live Free or Die Hard was a different story. The coordinated, near simultaneous cyberattacks of the power grid, financial systems, government databases, and media satellites was so over-the-top that I couldn't suspend my disbelief long enough to enjoy the movie. Maybe that's because I've long been suspicious of the terms cyberterrorism and cyberwarfare. In fact, the threats of thunderstorms, tornadoes, and overgrown trees are a greater threat to the daily delivery of your electricity fix than hackers. So are strategically placed explosives.But in light of some of the news that's been trickling out, I'm starting to up my concern level. According to several news reports, including this story by Thomas Claburn, hackers, apparently profit motivated, managed to turn the lights off in several cities while also demanding extortion money. Fortunately, these events occurred outside the United States.

I wouldn't get too worked up over these events. But we need to be prepared, probably better prepared than we are today. Fortunately, just this week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is strengthening how it secures the IT systems underlying the power grid.

I've long argued that if the utilities protect themselves from traditional cyberattacks using standard best IT security practices then they'd be prepared against most types of attacks that could be levied against them. The tools available to cyberterrorists are no different than those available to anyone else. There's no special class of cyberterrorist attack tools.

The same is true for physical terrorism. If the utility industry is adequately prepared for natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes, then we're prepared for most anything a small group of terrorists could do. There's not much difference between the response to unexpected natural disasters and unexpected terrorist attacks. In fact, natural disasters would likely be worse, and cover a wider geographic area.

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/13/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
Russian Cyber Gang 'Cosmic Lynx' Focuses on Email Fraud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/7/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-10987
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
The goform/setUsbUnload endpoint of Tenda AC15 AC1900 version 15.03.05.19 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary system commands via the deviceName POST parameter.
CVE-2020-10988
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
A hard-coded telnet credential in the tenda_login binary of Tenda AC15 AC1900 version 15.03.05.19 allows unauthenticated remote attackers to start a telnetd service on the device.
CVE-2020-10989
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
An XSS issue in the /goform/WifiBasicSet endpoint of Tenda AC15 AC1900 version 15.03.05.19 allows remote attackers to execute malicious payloads via the WifiName POST parameter.
CVE-2020-10986
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
A CSRF issue in the /goform/SysToolReboot endpoint of Tenda AC15 AC1900 version 15.03.05.19 allows remote attackers to reboot the device and cause denial of service via a payload hosted by an attacker-controlled web page.
CVE-2019-19338
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-13
A flaw was found in the fix for CVE-2019-11135, in the Linux upstream kernel versions before 5.5 where, the way Intel CPUs handle speculative execution of instructions when a TSX Asynchronous Abort (TAA) error occurs. When a guest is running on a host CPU affected by the TAA flaw (TAA_NO=0), but is ...