Chinese cyberattacks against U.S. power plants could trigger retaliation

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The New York Times and others say President Obama has the authority to order pre-emptive strikes to prevent future cyberattacks like the one that the Department of Homeland Security says caused a U.S. power plant to be "crippled for weeks."

 

What the Times described as a "secret legal review" has concluded that the President has broad powers. Cyber counterattacks would be mounted by DHS, but the military would engage in the event of larger attacks.

 

The Times quotes Richard Falkenrath, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, as stating that China is behind the recent incidents. "While this is all described in neutral terms — what are we going to do about cyberattacks — the underlying question is, 'What are we going to do about China?'"

 

Sophisticated attack hits DOE

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy confirmed this week that it was the victim of a cyber attack in mid-January, with a number of servers and workstations affected. PC Magazine reports that an email sent to DOE employees indicated no classified information was compromised. However, the DOE said personally identifiable information of "several hundred" employees and contractors may have been affected.

 

The FBI is reportedly investigating what some are calling a  "sophisticated" attack.

 

According to the The Washington Free Beacon, officials say the source of the attack is unknown, although some believe it is likely Chinese hackers who are responsible "because the department is known to be a major target of China for both secrets and technology. Also, the relative sophistication of the cyber attack is an indication of nation-state involvement."

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