The power is out for many U.S. citizens due to extreme
weather, and that’s the most
typical cause of an outage. However, something much more nefarious nearly
happened in California last year when an act of clandestine sabotage was
CBS News’s Bruce Kennedy is today reporting
that a PG&G electrical substation in the San Jose, Calif., area was
attacked last April. Saboteurs severed key telecommunications lines and used high-powered rifles to damage transformers. Some experts told the Wall Street
Journal that the late night attack was terrorism.
That may or may not be the proper characterization, but it
was clearly done with ill intentions. There was no major outage as a
consequence, but it’s raising the alarm about infrastructure security – a topic
of greater interest in the post 9/11 world.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security classified a 2007
report on the power grid’s vulnerabilities, which was later released in 2012.
Kennedy’s article cited the report’s conclusion
that a small number of well-informed attackers could cause major disruptions to
the U.S. power grid leading to acute economic consequences and potentially
thousands of deaths attributed to heat stress or exposure to cold.
There are things that can be done to rectify cyber attacks,
but physical security is another matter entirely. Security and risk management
isn’t limited to the Internet.
We explored how hardened the nation’s smart grid systems are
in 2012. Experts warned against making overarching statements about the grid’s
vulnerability, but noted that awareness of the problem has grown and that
utilities are working through security issues gradually. The U.S has increased its cyber security and been
found to have engaged
in cyber warfare, potentially letting the genie out of the bottle.
There have been incidents of cyber attacks against U.S. Navy
computers, U.S. banks,
and various government
agencies within the past two years. Those attacks came from overseas; the
attack in California happened within the U.S. boarders.
No arrests have been made in the San Jose incident, which is
alarming, because nothing is usually done to rectify threats until after a
major incident has happened. The threat is always clear in retrospect, and few ever
have the foresight to act.
(image credit: CBS)
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com