Electric grid vulnerable to attack

The National Research Council and Department of Homeland Security have concluded that electric grids are vulnerable to cyberterrorism and the damage would be far more catastrophic than natural disasters like the recent Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

12/11/2012


ISS SourceThe electric grid is vulnerable to terrorist attacks, including cyber strikes, that could cause far more damage than those associated with natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, a new report said.

Without urgent attention to security, the United States risks having large parts of the country blacked out “for weeks or months,” which would cost at a cost billions of dollars, the non-partisan National Research Council said.

The group’s report actually concluded in 2007 but ended up classified by its sponsor, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), until now. The council lobbied DHS to allow for its release, and said key findings remain “highly relevant.”

While the report may have the sound of being alarmist, some of its conclusions have proven to be accurate.

“Major cascading blackouts in the U.S. Southwest in 2011, and in India in 2012, underscore the need for the measures discussed in this report,” the group said.

In the intervening five years, the potential for cyber attacks on critical elements of the electric power delivery system — including communications, sensors and controls or other key infrastructure — rose sharply.

“Any telecommunication link that is even partially outside the control of the system operators could be an insecure pathway into operations and a threat to the grid,” the report said.

The sprawling power transmission system, spread across hundreds of miles and with key facilities unguarded, is “inherently vulnerable,” the council said.

Deregulation in the mid-1990s, designed to increase competition in the supply of bulk power, has put the network even more at risk, experts have said.

“The power grid, most of which was originally designed to meet the needs of individual vertically integrated utilities, is being used to move power between regions to support the needs of competitive markets for power generation.”

As a result, parts of the bulk high-voltage system have heavy stress and are at risk for multiple failures should an attack occur.

In some instances, key equipment is “decades old” and does not have the modern technology for sensing and control that could help to limit outages, the council said.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Motor specification guidelines; Understanding multivariable control; Improving a safety instrumented system; 2017 Engineers' Choice Award Winners
Selecting the best controller from several viewpoints; System integrator advice for the IIoT; TSN and real-time Ethernet; Questions to ask when selecting a VFD; Action items for an aging PLC/DCS
Robot advances in connectivity, collaboration, and programming; Advanced process control; Industrial wireless developments; Multiplatform system integration
Motion control advances and solutions can help with machine control, automated control on assembly lines, integration of robotics and automation, and machine safety.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Big Data and bigger solutions; Tablet technologies; SCADA developments
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
click me