If you have not fully prepared, you are putting your family at considerable risk. Here NPR explains the deadly risk of a cyber-attack on the nation’s electrical grid.
The concern that computer hackers could shut down the electric grid stems from technological changes in the power industry. Much of the equipment used in the grid, from the generators to the transformers, is now operated by computers. By disrupting computer network operations, hackers could shut down a key part of the grid.
They would still need access to the computers, but this obstacle could be overcome because many of those computers are now connected to the Internet.
“Now we can remotely manage devices via the Internet,” notes Mark Weatherford, until recently a top cyberspecialist at the Department of Homeland Security. “So instead of putting someone in a truck and having them drive a hundred miles to a substation in the middle of the mountains somewhere, you remotely manage that.”
Weatherford, now consulting on cyber issues at the Chertoff Group, says power companies saw that managing grid operations via the Internet brought efficiencies and cut costs, so they jumped at the chance. Perhaps a bit recklessly.
“To no one’s fault at the time — we didn’t realize it — [we] didn’t think about the security and the insecurity [of Internet connections],” Weatherford said. When a computer is connected to the Internet, a skilled hacker can often find a way to break into it.
This is the new disaster scenario for power companies. Security experts in the industry are aware of the challenge and moving quickly to meet it, but the threats to their networks may be evolving even faster.
Read much more on the dangers of electrical grid systems here.
Timothy O. Jones
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