I have a strong feeling that the heat is about to get turned up significantly on the hacker group Anonymous. Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of NSA, has warned that Anonymous could have the ability within the next year or two to cause a limited power outage via cyber attacks. Anonymous has been growing in power and boldness over the last year or more with high profile attacks on Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal among others.
Anonymous is also taking credit for things like bringing down the CIA website along with the websites of several other domestic and foreign governments. While the attacks so far have been more focused on embarrassing the target companies, some in the government fear that the group could turn more towards disrupting services. In fact, Anonymous has announced a plan with the goal of shutting down the Internet on March 31 called Operation Global Blackout. However, experts believe the likelihood of Anonymous pulling off such a feat to be very low.
Experts also believe that even if Anonymous could gain the ability to cause limited power outages, the damage caused by these outages would be minimal. Power industry insiders note that the national electric grid has backups allowing the restoration of power quickly if the grid is taken down by cyber attack or other events. For now government officials say countries such as China and Russia that are thought to have the capability to cause a power outage don't have the desire. The countries that might have the desire to cause a power outage don't have the capability. However, groups like Anonymous would be more likely to use the ability to cause a power outage if they could fear experts.