21 March 2010

Computer Security Experts: Power Grid is Vulnerable

The US power grid is vulnerable to foreign cyber-attack to the extent that it can be controlled via computer networks. A long-term shutdown of the US power grid could lead to a 12 month death toll of up to 90% of the population, according to some estimates looking at the potential aftermath of an EMP attack on the grid.
...experts in computer security say there are genuine reasons for American officials to be wary of China, and they generally tend to dismiss disclaimers by China that it has neither the expertise nor the intention to carry out the kind of attacks that bombard American government and computer systems by the thousands every week.

The trouble is that it is so easy to mask the true source of a computer network attack that any retaliation is fraught with uncertainty.

...Cyberwarfare is in some ways “analogous to the way people think about biological weapons — that once you set loose such a weapon it may be very hard to control where it goes,” he added.

...A number of reports, including one last October by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, of which Mr. Wortzel is vice chairman, have used strong language about the worsening threat of computer attacks, particularly from China.

“A large body of both circumstantial and forensic evidence strongly indicates Chinese state involvement in such activities, whether through the direct actions of state entities or through the actions of third-party groups sponsored by the state,” that report stated. _NYT
Of course the US power grid is not alone in its vulnerability to cyber-attack from China or Russia -- the two largest sources of orchestrated cyber attacks against government and large industrial targets. The trend toward a "smart grid", or a more computer-controlled grid, is not reassuring in terms of security against cyber-attack.

If power grids can be controlled -- and disrupted -- via computer networks that are readily accessible to antagonistic governments or terror organisations, there would be no need to use high powered electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to create wide-scale, potentially long-term damage to a large power grid. Large replacement power transformers can require a year or longer for manufacture, shipment, and installation. They are no longer built in the US.

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Blogger Michael Anissimov said...

Survivalist retreat much? Really. Are you prepping?

Wednesday, 24 March, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

Perhaps you have heard of the Lifeboat Foundation and other organisations that study how to deal with risks to society at various levels.

Regretfully, the Society for Creative Apocalyptology is closed to new membership at this time.

Friday, 26 March, 2010  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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