China and probably “one or two” other countries have the capacity to use a cyber attack and shut down the entire United States power grid, a catastrophe that could lead to significant loss of life, NSA Director Michael Rogers told a House panel Thursday.
“This is not theoretical,” Rogers said.
Rogers’ stark words came only three weeks after a report by the Pew Research Center predicted that by 2025, the nation will suffer a “major cyber attack” that will cause “widespread harm,” substantial loss of life and damage in the tens of billions of dollars.
Pew surveyed 1,625 computer and Internet experts for the report, and Rogers told the panel he did not disagree with it. He said the attack could shut down not only the power grid but other critical infrastructure.
Rogers also serves as head of U.S. Cyber Command.
“There shouldn’t be any doubt in our mind that there are nation states and groups out there that have the capability to do that – to enter those industrial [power grid] control systems and to shut down … our basic infrastructure,” Rogers told the House Intelligence Committee.
Worse, Rogers indicated the US already has found malware from China on major computer systems that is capable of doing great harm.
“It enables you to shut down very segmented, very tailored parts of our infrastructure that forestall the ability to provide that service to us as citizens,” Rogers said.
Such malware can cause “truly significant, almost catastrophic, failures if we don’t take action.”