Cyber attack aimed at Texas electricity provider

HOUSTON --

Local 2 Investigates has uncovered details about a so-called "cyber attack" on one of Texas' largest electricity providers, KPRC Local 2 reported Saturday.

A confidential e-mail obtained by Local 2 explains a "single IP address in China" tried 4,800 times to log in to the Lower Colorado River Authority's computer system.

In the e-mail, the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas reports all login attempts failed and went on to term the incident a "suspected sabotage event." The e-mail explained the FBI had been notified.

According to its Web site, the LCRA provides electricity to more than a million Texans in rural cities and towns. When contacted by Local 2, officials with the LCRA would "neither confirm, nor deny" the incident or the contents of the e-mail.

Officials with the FBI's Houston office also declined to comment.

When Local 2 contacted ERCOT, we were referred to the North American Electricity Corp., which sets and oversees reliability standards, including cyber security, for the nation's electricity providers.

"NERC evaluates all reported incidents, and works with the entity and our stakeholders and government partners," the company wrote in a statement. "This incident demonstrates the value of information sharing and highlights the ability of this utility to identify directed malicious probes and work with partners to properly enhance their defenses. Utilities must remain vigilant and aware of attacker techniques to constantly evaluate the security of their systems."

Homeland Security officials have cited a growing number of "cyber attacks" on critical infrastructure systems.

The former head of the FBI's Houston office, Don Clark, explained this is why institutions like the LCRA have to be so careful with computer security.

"Intellectual property has always been a target of the Internet, so they could be looking for intellectual property, they could be looking for banking information, they could be looking for secrets within the government. There's information out there that a lot of countries and individuals are just using mass efforts to try and hit on any one thing that they feel would be beneficial to them, whether it's science, military operations, or whatever it may be," Clark said.

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