U.S. power grid seen at risk

Members of Congress launched an effort Thursday to protect the nation's electricity grid from criminals, vandals, or U.S. enemies.

05/01/2009


 

According to a story in The Washington Times . key members of Congress launched an effort Thursday to protect the nation's electricity grid from criminals, vandals, or U.S. enemies, who could use the Internet to cripple computers that control the generation and distribution of power.

The effort, led by the chairmen of the House and Senate homeland security committees, follows reports of hackers - possibly working for foreign governments - probing power controls for weaknesses.

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, and Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi Democrat, would authorize the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, to supersede the power industry's self-governing body in setting security standards.

The grid is increasingly dependent on control systems operated over computer networks including the Internet.

In 2007, researchers at the Dept. of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory produced a video illustrating how hackers could destroy a generator by forcing it to operate at speeds that would literally shake it apart - a scenario dubbed the Aurora vulnerability.

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