Chinese hackers have been blamed for two sets of cyber attacks that left US homes without electricity in recent years.
Two blackouts in Florida and the Northeast were at least partially caused by Chinese crackers, computer security experts told the National Journal Magazine
The magazine bases its claims principally on Tim Bennett, former president of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance, who said that US spooks told him back in 2003 that crackers working on behalf of the Chinese National Liberation Army had gained access to the network controlling power plants in the north eastern US.
This intrusion "may have precipitated" a power outage that affected large swathes of the US in August 2003. The blackout - which affected New York, Michigan, Ohio and parts of Canada - hit 50 million homes and was officially blamed on a cascading failure arising from a failure to deal with the outage of a set of high-voltage lines, which had a knock-on affect on around 100 power plants.
The spread of the Blaster worm at the time may have hampered communications, hampering efforts to fix the problem.
Bennett also blames a February blackout in south Florida that left three million homes without electricity on computer hackers. A second security consultant, speaking anonymously, said that the Florida hack was down to a Chinese PLA hacker who made a mistake while attempting to produce a map of Florida Power & Light's systems. Power & Light blames an error by an engineer who disabled backup systems while making repairs on the outage. An official inquiry is ongoing.
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