“Smart Grids” are Actually Stupid, Vulnerable Grids

A system attack could be disguised as something as simple as a large number of apparent customers lowering their thermostat settings in a short period on a peak hot day… _ A Vulnerable Power Grid Could Ruin Your Whole Life

Society would crash to a halt. No highways filled with speeding automobiles; no jet trails arching across the morning sky; no brightly-lit skyscrapers, just dark, towering hulks of glass and steel. __ http://www.cyberwarfaretoday.com/2015/05/emp-and-cyber-twin-threats-but-not-twin.html

How Long Can You Stay Alive Without the Power Grid?

According to some estimates, between 70% and 90% of North Americans would be dead after 1 year of a grid-down power outage. In Europe — due to a higher population density — the death toll might be as bad, or higher.

How Vulnerable is the Power Grid?

One of the greatest threats to large power grids is cyber-attack. Power grids were already vulnerable before the internet, but the more connections a power grid evolves to public information networks — such as the internet — the more vulnerable it is.

The damage to modern society from an extended power outage can be dramatic… The Department of Energy earlier this year said cybersecurity was one of the top challenges facing the power grid, which is exacerbated by the interdependence between the grid and water, telecommunications, transportation, and emergency response systems.

… Grid operation depends on control systems – called Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) – that monitor and control the physical infrastructure. At the heart of these SCADA systems are specialized computers known as programmable logic controllers (PLCs)… One of the most well-known industrial cyberattacks involved these PLCs: the attack, discovered in 2010, on the centrifuges the Iranians were using to enrich uranium. The Stuxnet computer worm, a type of malware categorized as an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT), targeted the Siemens SIMATIC WinCC SCADA system.

… these new forms of malware [Stuxnet, etc.] can not only shut things down but can alter their function and permanently damage industrial equipment.

The growth of smart grid – the idea of overlaying computing and communications to the power grid – has created many more access points for penetrating into the grid computer systems. Currently knowing the provenance of data from smart grid devices is limiting what is known about who is really sending the data and whether that data is legitimate or an attempted attack.

This concern is growing even faster with the Internet of Things (IoT), because there are many different types of sensors proliferating in unimaginable numbers. How do you know when the message from a sensor is legitimate or part of a coordinated attack? A system attack could be disguised as something as simple as a large number of apparent customers lowering their thermostat settings in a short period on a peak hot day.

… The Department of Defense’s Cyber Strategy has as its third strategic goal, “Be prepared to defend the US homeland and US vital interests from disruptive or destructive cyberattacks of significant consequence.” ___ Power Grids and Cyber-Attack

Another vulnerability of large power grids is the EMP attack, using nuclear weapons. Rogue nation and Russian ally Iran has endorsed the use of a nuclear EMP attack against the US power grid. North Korea is another rogue ally of Russia that is on board for a nuclear EMP attack against its enemies.

Area Affected by Nuclear EMP According to Altitude of Blast

Area Affected by Nuclear EMP According to Altitude of Blast

“An EMP attack, most likely from the detonation of a nuclear weapon in space, would destroy unprotected military and private sector electronics nationwide, blacking out the electric grid for months or years.”

The authors point out that such an event would cause widespread death from hunger, disease and social disruption that by some estimates could reach ninety percent of the U.S. population.

Society would crash to a halt. No highways filled with speeding automobiles; no jet trails arching across the morning sky; no brightly-lit skyscrapers, just dark, towering hulks of glass and steel. __ http://www.cyberwarfaretoday.com/2015/05/emp-and-cyber-twin-threats-but-not-twin.html

Beyond massive cyber-attacks and a nuclear EMP ambush, large power grids must also contend with physical attacks against transmission lines, substations, generating stations, and indirect attacks on supporting infrastructures — such as energy supplies, eg the US EPA’s war on coal and Obama’s actions to slow down new nuclear energy infrastructure.

When Obama moved unilaterally to ease Iran’s development of nuclear weapons technology, he scored an “own goal” against the US power grid — and your own life expectancy.

US information systems are routinely hacked by Russian, Chinese, and other hostile overseas groups. There is no sign that the Obama administration takes these threats seriously — not even threats against power grids, which involves the life or death of millions.

Each year, hundreds of billions of dollars of intellectual property, including advanced weapons systems plans, are stolen by China’s cyber military groups. In 2014, nearly 525 million personal and financial records were stolen from U.S. institutions by Russian and other cyber crime syndicates. More than 80 million personal records were appropriated from Anthem Health alone. __ http://www.cyberwarfaretoday.com/2015/05/americas-passive-aggressive-cyber-stance.html

JP Morgan has thousands of computer security personnel, spending hundreds of $millions on computer security — yet recently the company was hacked with the loss of information from millions of accounts. Throwing money at computer security is not necessarily the answer. There is always an “inside man” who is willing to provide access for a price.

The next step in the progression would be the use of stolen information to weaken the societal infrastructure. After that would come the actual attacks: Cyber attacks, EMP attacks, and other types of attacks. The power grid is an essential foundation of western and East Asian societies. And power grids are considered to be extremely vulnerable.

Links to important EMP documents, and reviews of an exciting novel about an EMP attack on North America.

Cyber Warfare Today

Obama is clueless, as usual

More on the vulnerability of “green power grids:”

The German researcher [Maxim Rupp] has pointed out numerous glaring flaws in clean energy systems, from wind turbines to solar lighting, that could be hacked to turn off supplies in countries across the world. They are serious vulnerabilities, ones that require a low level of skill to exploit, according to the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team TISI NaN% (ICS-CERT), a division of the Department of Homeland Security. __ Wind / Solar Grids are Easy to Hack

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2 Responses to “Smart Grids” are Actually Stupid, Vulnerable Grids

  1. jccarlton says:

    Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    Anything that connects to the web is by it’s very nature insecure.

  2. The threat of cyber or physical attack on the United States’ power grid is difficult to overstate at this point, and it’s been gratifying to see more and more people recognize that fact. However, I have to point out that the threat from HEMP (High Altitude ElectroMagnetic Pulse) is hugely overstated. The reality is that it’s rather difficult to pull off. At the altitude where a pulse is widespread enough to cause large-scale disruption the device used must have a very high yield (10+ megatons) to reach the required intensity. If you drop the altitude, thinking to take out a smaller zone, then the EMP effect’s range drops very rapidly until, by the time you reach a traditional airburst the affected zone is smaller than the radius of total destruction. Obviously, people at that distance have much more to worry about than their cell-phones not working!

    There’s not much of a sweet-spot; under most circumstances you’re generally much better off using your bomb to blow the the target up. There’s also the issue that practically no one has weapons in the 10 MT range anymore (due to scaling laws, more small bombs are far better than one big one). Also, a surprising amount of even civilian electronics are EMP hardened these days.

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