Hackers literally turned out the lights in "several regions outside the United States" after breaking into electrical utilities and demanding extortion payments before disrupting the power, senior CIA analyst Tom Donahue told utility engineers at a trade conference earlier this week. Although Donahue did not specify what countries were affected, when the outages occurred or how long the outages lasted, he said the U.S. government believes some of the hackers had inside knowledge to cause the outages. "In at least one case, the disruption caused a power outage affecting multiple cities. We do not know who executed these attacks or why, but all involved intrusions through the Internet."
The Bush administration is increasingly worried about the little-understood risks from hackers to the specialized electronic equipment that operates power, water and chemical plants. In a test last year, known as the "Aurora Generator Test", the Homeland Security Department produced a video showing commands quietly triggered by simulated hackers having such a violent reaction that an enormous generator shudders as it flies apart and belches black-and-white smoke.
News source: SiliconValley.com