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The Christian Science Monitor's Mark Clayton reports that hackers linked to the Chinese military targeted 23 U.S. natural gas pipeline operators between December 2011 and June 2012.
Of the 23 companies, Clayton reports, 10 were infiltrated, three were "near misses," and another 10 cases are still being investigated.
"The stolen information could give an adversary all the insider knowledge necessary to blow up not just a few compressor stations but perhaps many of them simultaneously, effectively holding the nation’s gas infrastructure hostage," Clayton writes. "Nearly 30 percent of the nation’s power grid now relies on natural gas generation."
"Anyone can blow up a gas pipeline with dynamite," former Gas Technology Institute physicist William Rush told the Monitor. "But with this stolen information, if I wanted to blow up not one, but 1,000 compressor stations, I could. I could put the attack vectors in place, let them sit there for years, and set them all off at the same time. I don’t have to worry about getting people physically in place to do the job, I just pull the trigger with one mouse click."
"The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released a classified report that details the attacks," writes Softpedia's Eduard Kovacs. "While the report itself doesn’t appoint China as being the culprit, experts say the digital fingerprints left by the hackers are similar to the ones used by an espionage group linked to the Chinese military."