Nov. 7, 2014 -- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced that much of the critical infrastructure in the U.S., including major water and wastewater systems, has been jeopardized by a destructive computer malware program.
The "BlackEnergy" virus -- allegedly carried out by Russian-affiliated hackers, according to authorities -- stems from a 2011 hacking campaign and was also used earlier this year against NATO and other organizations in a similar cyber-attack.
ABC News noted that the Trojan horse has breached integral software used to operate a variety of national industrial processes that include water distribution networks, water and wastewater treatment systems, oil and gas pipelines, wind turbines, power grids, and nuclear plants.
The malware, although not yet live, can activate anytime and leave these processes susceptible to failure or malfunctioning. For example, it can cause water facilities to flood, generators to power down or pipelines to shut off, posing a high economic and environmental risk to the nation.
In addition to potentially controlling infrastructure software, ABC News indicated that the advanced network hack can also allow private or confidential information to be easily shared through a computer, iPad or smartphone.