Terrorist hackers, phreakers, identity thieves, and internet terrorists, my how the world has changed!
Intent on making life difficult for those who have adopted “open society” as a way of life, these modern day “dark knights” are stealing private data and sabotaging critical information systems and infrastructure. As a result, a new arms race is on to protect on the one hand, and destroy on the other, the foundations of modern society. Of course, modern society isn’t perfect, but forces seeking to supplant it don’t seem to be a better alternative.
A Handful Of Sub-Station Attacks Could Cause US Blackout
On April 16, 2013 a terrorist attack occurred at the Metcalf substation in San Jose, California in which, in the span of less than an hour, attackers cut telephone cables and sprayed the transmission substation with bullets causing transformers to start crashing. Electricity moves over long distances and electrical substations act as hubs where power lines intersect.
The police were called 43 minutes into the attack by a power plant operator, but were unable to enter the locked substation.. It wasn’t until 3:15 AM, more than an hour and a half later, that a utility electrician arrived to begin assessing the damage and start repairs. The substation was out of commission for 27 days and cost $10 million to repair.
The incident raised alarms and indicated that the electric grid is lightly monitored and highly vulnerable to attacks. This led various congressional committees to begin studying the country’s vulnerability. Since the California incident there have been eight additional intrusions at electrical grid facilities in New Jersey alone.
A Vulnerable Electric Grid
The electrical grid is not only threatened by terrorists, but by geo-magnetic storms, Electro-Magnetic Pulses (EMPs) that could be caused by the detonation of a nuclear weapon, old equipment, seismic vulnerability, cyber attacks, flooding, etc.
The electrical grid is a nationwide network of power generating plants, transmission lines, substations and distribution networks. According to a subsequent report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) “all it would take to plunge the entire nation into darkness for more than a year would be to knock out a transmission manufacturer and just 9 out of 55,000 electrical substations.”
FERC has modeled scenarios and conducted flow analysis which models the electric system’s performance when it loses important substations. The nation has become so dependent on computer networks to support daily activities and these networks depend on an uninterrupted flow of electricity.
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