Ramping up defences on a new battlefront
It’s been widely reported in the past that Russia has hacked parts of the US power grid. Any smart person would assume the US has been doing the same back.
Since at least 2012, current and former officials say, the United States has put reconnaissance probes into the control systems of the Russian electric grid.
But now the American strategy has shifted more toward offense, officials say, with the placement of potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before. It is intended partly as a warning, and partly to be poised to conduct cyberstrikes if a major conflict broke out between Washington and Moscow.
Set aside the amusing point that apparently the Pentagon hasn’t gone into detail about the project with President Trump in case he blabs about it or cancels it, and you’re left with a simple observation: when it comes to nation states, it’s likely that everyone is hacking everyone else. There are no ‘goodies’ and 'baddies’ here — hacking power grids and other infrastructure is just sensible self-defence in the modern age.
Yesterday Argentina, Uruguay and parts of other South American countries suffered a total power outage
. Mains electricity was cut off for tens of millions of people. While officials say they don’t think the cause was a cyber attack, the outage happened on an election day in parts of Argentina, showing how such events can disrupt important parts of life even if they take place for a short amount of time.
It’s only a matter of time before an outage like this is caused by a cyber attack. Russia’s drive to build the capability to disconnect itself from the international internet
has been widely criticised as an authoritarian move to control the information flowing to citizens, but it’s easy to see how other countries’ may be jealous of the ability to cut off outsiders when their own civilians’ basic utilities become the new battlefront.