Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Energy Security Wars: Grids vs. Hackers

According to this Washington Post article, the grid doesn't always win, especially in some ambiguous foreign countries. Tom Donahue, the CIA's top cyber security analyst, made some news when he disclosed that cyber attackers have breached the electrical systems of multiple countries and have gone as far as powering down entire cities when their demands weren't met.

Of course, it's not business as usual for the CIA to speak out so publicly:
The CIA wouldn't have changed its policy on disclosure if it wasn't important. Donahue wouldn't have said it publicly if he didn't think the threat was very large and that companies needed to fix things right now.
But it's not just that hackers are getting more organized and more powerful. Grid breaches are occurring because new IT and communications technologies are making life easier for operators ... and at the same time, more dangerous for customers.  According to security specialist Ralph Logan:
In the past, if they wanted to go out and read a gauge on a gas well, for example, they would have to send a technician in his vehicle; he would drive 100 miles and physically read the gauge and get back in his truck. Now they can read it from headquarters. But it allows attackers a gateway into the system.
All I can say is get ready for the Smart Grid, DOD. I'd recommend more diesel generators on the base ... and lots of candles in the home.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

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