Hackers did not cause blackout - report

Thursday, 20 November 2003, 4:50 PM EST

There is no evidence that the blackout that struck the northeastern United States and southern Canada on August 14 was caused by hackers, but the power grid's reliance on the Internet makes it vulnerable to potentially devastating online attacks, according to a report issued Wednesday.

The U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task Force concluded that the blackout was due to a combination of factors, including computer failures, human error, power grid rule violations and inadequate maintenance by FirstEnergy Corp., the Akron-based power company that serves northern Ohio.

The task force said "analysis to date provides no evidence that malicious actors are responsible for, or contributed to, the outage." But the report noted that utilities are increasingly connecting their internal control systems to the global Internet to more easily monitor their networks from remote locations, a practice that exposes systems to a range of security risks.

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