ISIS is trying to cyber-attack the U.S


The Islamic State is trying to hack American electrical power companies.

U.S. law enforcement officials revealed the hack attempts on Wednesday at a conference of American energy firms who were meeting about national security concerns.

"ISIL is beginning to perpetrate cyberattacks," Caitlin Durkovich, assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the Department of Homeland Security, told company executives. The attacks by the Islamic State have been unsuccessful, Terrorists are not currently using the most sophisticated hacking tools to break into computer systems and turn off or blow up machines.

"Strong intent. Thankfully, low capability," said John Riggi, a section chief at the FBI's cyber division. "But the concern is that they'll buy that capability."

Indeed, hacking software is up for sale in black markets online. That's often how mafias acquire the cyberweapons they use to break into companies and steal giant databases of information they later sell to fraudsters.

The FBI now worries that the Islamic State or its supporters will buy malicious software that can sneak into computers and destroy electronics. An attack on power companies could disrupt the flow of energy to U.S. homes and businesses.

And it's not just Islamic extremists. There's an equal threat from domestic terrorists and hate groups, according to Mark Lemery. He's the "critical infrastructure protection coordinator" who helps coordinate defenses against attacks in Utah. But again, the worries are tempered.

"They'd love to do damage, but they just don't have the capability," Lemery said. "Terrorists have not gotten to the point where they're causing physical damage."

Officials made clear that the greater concern is attacks from other countries. Riggi said malware found last year on industrial control systems at energy companies -- including pumps and engines -- were traced to the Russian government.

The chance of a hack taking out the entire U.S. energy grid -- or even a section of it -- is extremely low. The grid isn't as uniform and connected as people might believe. Currently, it's a chaotic patchwork of "grids," each with different types of machines and software that don't smoothly coordinate or communicate.




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