The WSJ has this interesting article on penetrations in the systems controlling our power systems and other utilities. The article fingers the Russians and Chinese but is short on specific evidence:
Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.
The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven’t sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.
“The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid,” said a senior intelligence official. “So have the Russians.”
Of course there will be strong resistance from many the security community to accept that this is work of any government. There is likely no clear evidence implicating anyone, thus the prevailing wisdom will likely be the standard “it was independent hackers with no ties to any government” theory. But still, it takes a willful blindness to cling to that theory. There seem to be no criminal profits or vandalistic motivations here.
The reason for this willful blindness is simple. If this is the work of independent hackers, no action other than improved security is required. That’s the easy way out.
But if it really the work of foreign governments, then hard decisions must be made and painful actions must be taken. And no one likes to make hard decisions or take painful actions.