Congressional Delays Help Hackers Plan Attacks
A new report by Bloomberg News shows just how organized and dangerous computer hackers, particularly from China, have become to United States security. Federal authorities say that these hackers, many of whom now find themselves on the FBI Most Wanted List, have been running well planned reconnaissance missions and have already learned how to cause major damage to U.S. infrastructure. In one case a Chinese hacker who called himself UglyGorilla, leisurely studied natural gas pipeline security memos, and learned how he could turn off or even completely destroy the energy sources to American cities.
UglyGorilla is one of many hackers the FBI has watched. Agents have recorded raids by other operatives in China and in Russia and Iran, all apparently looking for security weaknesses that could be employed to disrupt the delivery of water and electricity and impede other functions critical to the economy, according to former intelligence officials with knowledge of the investigation. The incursions spurred a debate in the Obama administration over whether and how to respond, and raised alarms among lawmakers briefed on the incidents.
There is very little the government can do right now to defend Americans from these attacks. While a number of ideas to increase cyber security have been proposed, outside lobbying has stalled work to apply a fix to this problem.
An effort to require utilities, chemical refineries, water plants and stock exchanges to improve security also failed. Lobbying by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce helped kill a Senate cyber security bill in August 2012 by casting it as a regulatory burden because it would have forced some companies to install anti-hacking protections. Supporters couldn’t overcome a Republican-led filibuster against the measure, falling eight votes short.