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U.S. infrastructure found to be vulnerable to hacking

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta may have been bartering in hyperbole when warned of a possible "cyber Pearl Harbor" last year. However, as new research has found, there are a number of serious weak spots -- vulnerable to hacking -- scattered throughout crucial U.S. infrastructure.

"Adam Crain, Chris Sistrunk and Adam Todorski, who are working with industrial consultants Automatak, found 25 zero-day vulnerabilities – flaws which have never before been seen in the wild – in the protocol by which power plants and other parts of the electricity grid communicate internally," the Guardian notedThursday.

The network is not Internet-connected, so it's not a traditional hacking risk, but the newly-discovered vulnerabilities are none the less reason for concern, the researchers suggest. “If someone tries to breach the control center through the internet, they have to bypass layers of firewalls... But someone could go out to a remote substation that has very little physical security and get on the network and take out hundreds of substations potentially. And they don’t necessarily have to get into the substation either," said Crain.

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