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Five Reasons The U.S. Power Grid Is Overdue For A Cyber Catastrophe

Posted by Tanner Stoker on

Of the many ways a man made disaster could be brought about upon the United States, one of the most overlooked, yet most dangerous, is an attack on our power grid.

There are currently a total of 3 grids in the entire United States which provide power to fuel our economy and our everyday way of life. As experts from Homeland Security have noted however, these grids are incredibly vulnerable.

Successfully attacking these grids would result in widespread chaos and disaster. Here are the top 5 reasons the US Power Grid is overdue for an attack, provided by Loren Thompson from Forbes.

1. Nothing works without the power grid.

"Understand that if you take down the grid, every other network that matters will collapse with it. The Department of Homeland Security identifies 16 "critical infrastructures" supporting the U.S. economy, but the electric grid is the most basic -- everything else from medicine to finance to transportation depends on it. Thus, it is the most "lucrative" target for hackers seeking to achieve devastating effects."

2. The current grid has numerous vulnerabilities.

"The U.S. power grid is full of seams that can be exploited by hackers -- especially state-sponsored agents who have the skill and resources to penetrate complex networks. It would be challenging to mount a nationwide cyber assault because Con Edison has different operating features than Pacific Gas & Electric -- including different software systems -- but even with circuit breakers installed on major interconnect routes, it might be feasible to cause cascading outages across the grid. More permanent damage, such as that wrought by the Stuxnet virus in Iran's nuclear program, cannot be discounted."

3. New technologies make the danger worse.

"As in other industries, the increasing use of mobile devices by utility managers and the shift to cloud computing could create new avenues for cyber exploits. Some experts also think the Internet of Things connecting electrical appliances and other equipment could provide opportunities for hackers. Beyond that, the growing contribution of renewable energy sources to electricity generation adds to the complexity of grid operations. With so many internet-connected innovations being introduced across a decentralized network and diverse workforce, it is nearly impossible to enforce the kind of consistent security standards that would minimize danger from cyber attacks."

4. Industry financial incentives are weak.

"The federal government's 2011 Roadmap to Achieve Energy Delivery Systems Cybersecurity noted that "making a strong business case for cybersecurity investment is complicated by the difficulty of quantifying risk in an environment of rapidly changing, unpredictable threats with consequences that are hard to demonstrate." Because power companies typically operate as state-regulated utilities whose profits are closely scrutinized, industry executives have to be convinced it makes sense to invest in protection against a threat that looks largely hypothetical today. The high cost of installing necessary hardware and software, coupled with the challenge of training workers in good network "hygiene," is a powerful disincentive to addressing the danger."

5. The regulatory structure dilutes oversight.

"The regulatory standards for cyber defense of the grid are a bit uneven. For instance, the protections required in the core assets of the bulk energy system are more demanding than those imposed on some local distribution facilities, even though the local assets are connected to the bulk system. Richard Campbell, the author of the congressional study, observes that "because there are no mandatory standards of protection for distribution facilities below the bright-line threshold, these potentially 'less protected' seams of the [bulk energy system] may provide a backdoor to cyber intrusions to the grid."

The bottom line is that the U.S. power grid will remain vulnerable to cyberattack for the foreseeable future, and may become more vulnerable as new technologies couple it more closely to the internet."

So, what can you do to prepare for a disaster like this? Well, the first step is to make sure you and each member of your family has a well equipped 72 hour kit that provides you with, at a minimum, 3 days of food and water plus basic medical supplies. You can view all of our 72 hour kits by Clicking Here.

Second, work to build a solid food and water storage supply. Even starting with 1 weeks worth of food storage and water storage could make all the difference! In the event the power does go out for an extended period of time, store shelves would become empty very quickly (as we've seen in the past). You can view our various food storage options by Clicking Here and all of our water storage options by Clicking Here.

Preparation is key when it comes to potential disasters like this. If you wait until it's already happened, it will most likely be too late. Better to prepare and have nothing happen, than to not prepare and have disaster strike.

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