Security Official: Hackers A Threat To Power Grid

Dennis Faas's picture

A senior US security official has warned that a high-profile international hacker group may currently possess the ability to cause widespread power outages in the United States. However, the hackers themselves have publicly countered that claim, saying they would never carry out such an attack.

To underline their assertion, the hackers have attacked the newspaper that first published these claims.

General Keith Alexander, director of the U.S. National Security Agency, was reported in the Wall Street Journal to have made the comments about Anonymous, a loose collection of hackers who view themselves as a movement rather than an organization.

The group is well-known for carrying out distributed denial of service attacks, which use an army of networked computers (often hijacked), to flood a website with so many bogus requests for files that its servers become overwhelmed, making the targeted site effectively inaccessible to legitimate users.

White House Warned

According to the Wall Street Journal, General Alexander has privately warned White House officials that the group may step up the severity and importance of its attacks by targeting Internet-connected electricity supply systems.

Experts have agreed such an attack would be possible, but most think none is likely to occur for another five years or so. (Source:

General Alexander has not made any of these claims in public, likely for fear that statements along those lines might actually encourage the kind of attacks he is hoping to prevent.

Anonymous: Harming Patients Out of the Question

While the loose structure of Anonymous means there is no clear-cut "official spokesman" for the group, members do operate several Twitter accounts that carry statements purportedly originating within the group.

Twitter message ("tweets") on one such account have called the General's reported claims alarming, and have said the group would not attack power systems, as it has no reason to risk harming people on life support machines, or other necessary services that rely on uninterrupted power. (Source:

Members of the group also responded to the Wall Street Journal report by flooding its Facebook page with comments, each one containing the same words, accusing the newspaper of "deliberate dissemination of false information."

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