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Hackers threatened California power supply
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Sat, 9 Jun 2001 14:21:27 -0500 (CDT)


By The Associated Press
Special to CNET News.com 
June 9, 2001, 9:40 a.m. PT 

LOS ANGELES--At the height of the California energy crisis, a key
computer system involved in moving electricity throughout the state
was targeted by hackers, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

The limited success of the hackers exposed security weaknesses in the
system used by the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which
oversees most of the state's electricity transmission grid, the report

Officials said the problems have been corrected and there was no
threat to the grid, even though the hackers came close to accessing
critical parts of the system and could have disrupted the movement of

The report cited an internal agency report showing the attack began as
early as April 25 and wasn't detected until May 11. ISO officials said
rolling blackouts May 7 and 8 were not connected to the hacking, and
the FBI is investigating.

The report said the main offensive was routed through China Telecom
from someone in Guangdong province in China. Hackers also apparently
entered the system using Internet servers in Santa Clara, Calif., and
Tulsa, Okla.

"You don't know where people are really from," said James Sample, a
computer security specialist at ISO. "The only reason China stuck out
is because of the recent political agenda China had with the U.S. An
ambitious U.S. hacker could have posed as a Chinese hacker."

The breach occurred amid increased tensions following the collision of
a Chinese military jet and a U.S. spy plane. Following the incident,
there were dozens of publicly reported computer attacks apparently
originating from China. Most were minor.

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