Company officials and American intelligence agencies then grappled with a fundamental question: Why had the Chinese done it?
Was the People’s Liberation Army, which is suspected of being behind the hacking group, trying to plant bugs into the system so they could cut off energy supplies and shut down the power grid if the United States and China ever confronted each other in the Pacific? Or were the Chinese hackers just trolling for industrial secrets, trying to rip off the technology and pass it along to China’s own energy companies?
“We are still trying to figure it out,” a senior American intelligence official said last week. “They could have been doing both.”
Telvent, which also watches utilities and water treatment plants, ultimately managed to keep the hackers from breaking into its clients’ computers.
At a moment when corporate America is caught between what it sees as two different nightmares — preventing a crippling attack that brings down America’s most critical systems, and preventing Congress from mandating that the private sector spend billions of dollars protecting against that risk — the Telvent experience resonates as a study in ambiguity"