Experts Fear Hackers Could Destroy American Power Grid

( – Cybercriminal gangs and state actors continue their efforts to target critical infrastructure systems in the United States. For instance, they hacked the Republican National Committee’s cloud servers and temporarily shut down the Colonial Pipeline in 2021. Likewise, they’ve continued attacking numerous groups and organizations in the nation’s energy, defense, education, technology, and healthcare sectors. A recent report indicated they could destroy the American power grid.

On July 18, the House Energy & Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations held a hearing to examine “emerging threats” to the nation’s electric energy infrastructure. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s senior vice president, Manny Cancel, testified that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues to present a rising threat to America’s power grid.

Cancel warned that recent “Chinese activities [were]… quite alarming.” He also predicted that a successful hack by CCP operatives could take down sensitive military and civilian operations, taking down their sites and computer networks.

Continuing, Cancel testified that recent Chinese cyber activities presented “one of the most dynamic cyber threats” facing America today. He noted that the CCP “continues to demonstrate [increased] sophistication, [to include] new and adaptive techniques to [obtain] access to networks.”

Cancel’s testimony echoed concerns presented by Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris (R-WA) during her opening statement. She explained that energy is “foundational to everything” from the American way of life to a strong economy and national security.

McMorris also noted that attacks on the US power grid reportedly rose by as much as 71% in 2022 compared to the previous year. She also urged fellow lawmakers to take notice of the Director of National Intelligence’s recent confirmation that “cyber risks to [American] energy systems” have been increasing and both China and Russia are capable of disrupting “critical energy services.”

Subcommittee Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) echoed those concerns in his opening remarks. He warned that the nation’s “foreign adversaries,” including China and Russia, have “demonstrated an increasing interest” in undermining America’s critical infrastructure components like electrical grids.

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