Hackers have stolen sensitive information from American energy companies — and have planted malware in the energy grid with the intent to turn off the lights in the future.
Jose Pagliery reports: They even managed to infect at least three energy companies with Cryptolocker ransomware, a particularly nasty computer virus that locks digital files and demands a ransom payment.
Newly released documents from the Department of Homeland Security are finally shedding some light on what exactlyhackers are doing when they sneak into the American electrical grid.
Some of the attacks described in the report are potentially serious.
Aggressive foreign government hackers broke into American companies 17 times between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014, according to DHS. In two cases they snuck into U.S. petroleum organizations, and hackers are “suspected of exfiltrating data” from one of them.
It’s rare, but highly sophisticated foreign government hackers have gotten inside the energy grid, DHS said. They hack “primarily to conduct cyber espionage … to conduct a damaging or disruptive attack in the event of hostilities with the United States,” DHS stated in a recent internal “intelligence assessment.”
That sounds alarming, but DHS is throwing cold water on any present worries. The agency concluded that damaging cyberattacks against the American energy sector is “possible but not likely.”
That calm demeanor doesn’t sit well with some cybersecurity experts. Ryan Duff is a researcher and former member of U.S. Cyber Command, the American military’s hacking unit. He warned that once a hacker gets into a computer — even if physical damage hasn’t been caused yet — the potential is there.
“While I agree with the DHS assessment overall, it’s still pretty frightening,” he said. “The fact is that the ability to cause destruction exists. Their assessment that attack is unlikely is based on political realities instead of technical realities. Attack is way more than technically possible.”
DHS prefers to label these cyber incidents as “espionage or some other activity,” rather than “cyberattacks.” To date, there have been “no damaging or destructive attacks against the U.S. energy sector,” DHS said.
“The majority of malicious activity occurring against the U.S. energy sector is low-level cybercrime that is … not meant to be destructive,” DHS analysts wrote.
“Most of the attacks that we’ve witnessed against this sector are in fact criminal in nature,” he told CNNMoney. “In some cases we even see criminals not realizing the importance of some of the machines [they gained access to.]”
Matthew Schuler writes: I’ve been having an insightful shuffle through Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People. Mihaly is a seminal professor of Psychology and Management, and is the Founding Co-Director of the Quality of Life Research Center at Claremont. He writes:
“I have devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work, to make more understandable the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.”
Nine out of the ten people in me strongly agree with that statement. As someone paid to be creative, I sometimes feel kaleidoscopic in my views or opinions, and that “multitude” of expressions sometimes confuses those around me. Why does that happen? My thoughts make cohesive sense to me, yet others sometimes feel that I am contradicting myself or switching positions. What is wrong with me?
Mihaly describes 9 contradictory traits that are frequently present in creative people:
Most creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but are often quiet and at rest. They can work long hours at great concentration.
Most creative people tend to be smart and naive at the same time. “It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of thinking that most creativity tests measure, and that most creativity workshops try to enhance.”
Lunar Potential: Shimizu Corp announces innovative solution to the nation’s energy problems
A Japanese construction firm is proposing to solve the well-documented energy problems facing Japan – and ultimately the entire planet – by turning the moon into a colossal solar power plant.
Tokyo-based Shimizu Corp. wants to lay a belt of solar panels 250 miles wide around the equator of our orbiting neighbour and then relay the constant supply of energy to “receiving stations” on Earth by way of lasers or microwave transmission.
The “Luna Ring” that is being proposed would be capable of sending 13,000 terawatts of power to Earth. Throughout the whole of 2011, it points out, the United States only generated 4,100 terawatts of power.
Gun Digest‘s Grant Cunningham writes: The idea behind the +P is to add enough energy to reliably deliver an expanded bullet deep enough to do its job. It doesn’t have to be a lot of extra energy – it just has to be enough. Here’s what you need to know.
What About +P Ammo?
Remember that hollowpoints use part of their energy to expand their diameter, but the energy that’s used to expand the bullet is energy that can’t be used to drive the same bullet forward. There is no such thing as a free lunch; if you want the bullet to expand, it’s going to use energy. If there is too little of it to start with, there won’t be enough left to carry the bullet on its path.
“…creative destruction is part of what makes capitalism go. There’s no inherent reason to protect coal mines any more than buggy-whip makers. The biggest threat to coal country comes from vast new supplies of natural gas, not from wind and solar.
The point remains: Government, with its inevitable susceptibility to lobbying and favoritism, should not be picking winners and losers, whether through green subsidies or tax breaks for oil and gas.
It’s one thing to lose your job because a competing firm built a superior mouse trap; it’s quite another, justice-wise, to lose it because a competitor talked the government into taking its side.
There must be a better way to pursue the legitimate goals of environmentalism…”
- Coal vs. natural gas: It’s complicated (fuelfix.com)
- Natural gas is a viable alternative to coal and often cheaper than oil for transportation (prweb.com)
- Fracking Is A Game Changer For America’s Railroaders (businessinsider.com)
- Cheap natural gas hurting coal market (hamptonroads.com)