NSA chief: Grid ripe for attack

Electric companies in the United States might not be able to protect the power grid in the United States from a cyber attack, said the director of the National Security Agency (NSA).

04/25/2011


Electric companies in the United States might not be able to protect the power grid in the United States from a cyber attack, said the director of the National Security Agency (NSA).

“When you look at it, if you were to ask me to rank order where industries are in terms of their cyber security capability, I think power is at or close to the bottom of the list, not because they’re bad, but because that’s not a focus area for them right now,” said Keith Alexander, a four-star Army general who also commands the U.S. Cyber Command.

“Not only that, they don’t have the technical expertise nor the government help that they need and we ought to give it to them,” he said. “And, so I think that partnership is going to be key for the future.”

During a talk at a cyber security symposium held last week at the University of Rhode Island, Alexander discussed the August 2003 blackout that affected 45 million people in eight Eastern states and 10 million others in Ontario, and was aggravated by a software problem initially unknown to the systems operators.

He also talked about the August 2009 sensing-system failure at the world’s third largest hydroelectric plant at the Sayano-Shushenskaya dam in Russia, in which engineers remotely turned on a turbine that violently tore apart, causing a ceiling to collapse at the power plant, damaging eight other turbines and killing 75 people.

“What I’m concerned about: These are issues that were caused by people with good intentions,” Alexander said. “What about those without? And there are two forms of the destruction that I’m concerned about. One is data, destroying data, and the other is equipment and I think we have to be ready for both of those.”



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.
Intelligent, efficient PLC programming: Cost-saving programming languages are available now; Automation system upgrades; Help from the cloud; Improving flow control; System integration tips
Smarter machines require smarter systems; Fixing PID, part 3; Process safety; Hardware and software integration; Legalities: Integrated lean project delivery
Choosing controllers: PLCs, PACs, IPCs, DCS? What's best for your application?; Wireless trends; Design, integration; Manufacturing Day; Product Exclusive
PLCs, robots, and the quest for a single controller; how OEE is key to automation solutions.
This article collection contains several articles on improving the use of PID.
Learn how Industry 4.0 adds supply chain efficiency, optimizes pricing, improves quality, and more.

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

Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again