T&D World Magazine
Power System Cyber Threat is the Real Deal

Power System Cyber Threat is the Real Deal

Superstorms, solar flares, terrorist attacks on substations, and now, confirmation by the NSA that the grid is likely to get whacked by a major cyber-attack. Whew, will it ever end? As Gilda would say, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another”

Did you see this announcement by CNN and some other major news sources?

China and 'probably one or two other' countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure through a cyber attack, the head of the National Security Agency told a Congressional panel Thursday.

Admiral Michael Rogers, who also serves the dual role as head of U.S. Cyber Command, said the United States has detected malware from China and elsewhere on U.S. computers systems that affect the daily lives of every American.

"It enables you to shut down very segmented, very tailored parts of our infrastructure that forestall the ability to provide that service to us as citizens," Rogers said in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

Rogers said such attacks are part of the "coming trends" he sees based on 'reconnaissance' currently taking place that nation-states, or other actors may use to exploit vulnerabilities in U.S. cyber systems.”

A recent report by Mandiant, a cyber-security firm, found that hackers working on behalf of the Chinese government were able to penetrate American public utility systems that service everything from power generation, to the movement of water and fuel across the country.”

"It is only a matter of the when, not the if, that we are going to see something traumatic." he said.

Oh, go eat your turkey…

Don’t let all this spoil your appetite for your Thanksgiving meal. Just remember a couple of points:

  1. Although the mass media will suck vast quantities of reads and page views out of this announcement, there really isn’t anything new here. The industry has been warning about the potential for cyberattack for years. And be assured that squadrons of consultants are enjoying the fruits of trying to fix it.
  2. Perhaps most comforting is the knowledge that we can always return to the simpler days when the grid was too ‘stupid’ to be bothered by much other than storms, bombs and bullets.

 

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