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NSA warns hacker group could cause limited power outage in U.S.

(Xinhua)

09:17, February 22, 2012

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- The director of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has warned that hacker group Anonymous could have the ability within the next year or two to bring about a limited power outage through a cyberattack, U.S. media reported on Tuesday.

The hacker group gained international notoriety recently for taking down the websites of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that Keith Alexander, the NSA director, provided the assessment in meetings at the White House and in other private sessions, citing people familiar with the gatherings.

Alexander hasn't publicly expressed his concerns about the potential for Anonymous to disrupt power supplies, but has warned that cyberattackers could disable or even damage computer networks.

The newspaper said any attack by Anonymous directed at the power grid is likely to inflict limited damage, but would be certain to sow alarm, especially if Anonymous took credit publicly.

It cited grid officials as saying that their systems face regular attacks, and that they devote tremendous resources to repelling invaders. Officials explained the electric grid has a number of backup systems that allow utilities to restore power quickly if it is taken out by a cyberattack.

Intelligence officials also believe that for now, the cyber threat to the power grid is relatively limited, as groups like Anonymous don't yet have that capability. But if the group's members around the world developed or acquired it, an attack on the power grid would become far more likely.

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