U.S. Risks National Blackout From Small-Scale Attack



US Grid WSJ resized 600
The Wall Street Journal this morning published something that I do NOT like at all. I am expressing myself mildly. A federal analysis says that sabotage of just nine key substations is sufficient for a broad outage that could last weeks or months. If you want to know what that means, well it kicks us all back to the 18-th century and there is a best-selling book called CyberStorm that spells out in detail what that means. It's ugly. It is time to call your congressman and urge them something needs to be done about this immediately. 
I am quoting the WSJ: "The U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs knocked out just nine (!) of the country's 55,000 electric-transmission substations on a scorching summer day, according to a previously unreported federal analysis.

"The study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concluded that coordinated attacks in each of the nation's three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse, people familiar with the research said.

"A small number of the country's substations play an outsize role in keeping power flowing across large regions. The FERC analysis indicates that knocking out nine (!) of those key substations could plunge the country into darkness for weeks, if not months.

"A memo prepared at FERC in late June for Mr. Wellinghoff before he briefed senior officials made several urgent points. "Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer," said the memo, which was reviewed by the Journal. 

"The power grid, built over many decades in a benign environment, now faces a range of threats it was never designed to survive," said Paul Stockton, a former assistant secretary of defense and president of risk-assessment firm Cloud Peak Analytics. "That's got to be the focus going forward."  Many sites aren't staffed and are protected by little more than chain-link fences and cameras.

This is an outrage. I knew the grid was vulnerable, but this is a terrible situation. Washington needs to fix its priorities. Now.

Topics: IT Security

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