July 27th, 2012
01:00 AM ET

DoD official: Vulnerability of U.S. electrical grid is a dire concern

By Dan Merica

Speaking candidly at the Aspen Security Forum, one defense department official expressed great concern about the possibility of a terrorist attack on the U.S. electric grid that would cause a “long term, large scale outage.”

Paul Stockton, assistant secretary for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs at the Department of Defense, said such an attack would affect critical defense infrastructure at home and abroad – a thought that Stockton said was keeping him up at night.

Also from Aspen: A failing grade for US readiness to deal with cyber attacks

“The DOD depends on infrastructure in order to be able to operate abroad. And to make those operations function, we depend on the electric grid,” Stockton said.

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Filed under: Aspen Security Forum
July 26th, 2012
04:50 PM ET

Defense official: U.S. needs to 'accelerate' effort to help Mali

By Dan Merica

Mali, a country bloodied by a violent March coup, has become a greater focus of U.S. counterterrorism attention, a Department of Defense official said Thursday.

In his opening statements at an Aspen Security Forum panel, Michael Sheehan, the assistant secretary for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflicts at the Department of Defense, expressed concern about the ungoverned territory of northern Mali - particularly because of a lack of control within Mali's coup-led government.

"Mali is a difficult situation because it starts with the government in Bamako," Sheehan said. "We have to find a way to move forward with the government first and I think we need to start to accelerate that effort."

Read all our coverage of the 2012 Aspen Security Forum

Mali's junta leader, Capt. Amadou Sanogo, usurped control of the African nation in March. Since then, his soldiers have been accused of looting offices and shops in the capital. The coup wrested control of the nation from former President Amadou Toumani Toure and gained the scorn of the international community - including the United States.

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Filed under: Africa • Al Qaeda • Aspen Security Forum • Mali
Report: Hackers seized control of NASA computers
In March 2011, theft of an unencrypted NASA notebook resulted in the loss of the algorithms used to command and control the International Space Station.
March 2nd, 2012
03:06 AM ET

Report: Hackers seized control of NASA computers

By Dan Merica

Hackers targeting sensitive NASA computers have gained access to employee credentials and taken control of systems at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, among other things, a federal report says.

The space agency's inspector general, Paul K. Martin, cited one case involving hackers with IP addresses in China.  In that case, intruders gained "full system access" to change or delete sensitive files and user accounts for "mission-critical" systems at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, he said in a report issued this week. FULL POST

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Filed under: Cybersecurity • NASA
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