The U.S. government on Thursday warned of a heightened risk of a cyberattack that could disrupt the control systems of U.S. companies providing critical services such as electricity and water.
Officials are highly concerned about “increasing hostility” against “U.S. critical infrastructure organizations,” according to the warning, which was released by the Department of Homeland Security on a computer network accessible only to authorized industry and government users. “Adversary intent extends beyond intellectual property theft to include the use of cyber to disrupt . . . control processes.”
Senior U.S. officials have warned in recent months that foreign adversaries are probing computer systems that operate chemical, electric and water plants. But they are also increasingly concerned about the threat of a potentially destructive cyberattack.
Such attacks are rare. Last summer, more than 30,000 computers at the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco were destroyed when a virus wiped data from the hard drives. The same virus also damaged computer systems at Ras Gas, an energy company in Qatar.