Cyber-Attack on the Power Grid
Cyber-Attack on the US Power Grid would be devastating

A power outage due to a cyber-attack on the Power grid would last one to two weeks, NERC president and CEO Gerry W. Cauley told lawmakers Thursday.

Cyber-attack on the Power Grid could knock out huge chunk of U.S. electricity. The U.S. government is not prepared for a cyber-attack on the power grid that takes leaves large areas for weeks, or even months without electricity. According to the NERC though a Worst-Case Scenario for Grid Outage Due to cyber-attack Is One to Two Weeks. Still sounds pretty bad to me… and maybe wishful thinking?

A widespread, long-lasting power outage caused by a cyber-attack may be unlikely, but the U.S. government needs to better plan for the possibility, Representative Lou Barletta, a Pennsylvania Republican, said Thursday.  A cyber-attack on the Power Grid has become an issue for law makers, politicians and governments are talking about.

With some experts worried that a coordinated cyber-attack could lead to widespread power outages lasting for several months, the federal government should offer more help to state and local governments planning to deal with the aftermath, Barletta said during a hearing before a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Transformation and Infrastructure Committee.

Barletta and other subcommittee members pointed to a coordinated attack on Ukraine’s power grid last December that left more than 200,000 people without electricity for a few hours. A cyber-attack, combined with a physical attack or with extreme weather conditions, could have devastating results, lawmakers said.

“Imagine what we would do without electricity for a day, a week, a month, a year,” Baretta said. “If the goal of the bad guys is to collapse the United States’ economic system, they are going to try to cut off the power.”

The U.S. has few high-power electrical transformers held in reserve, because of the multimillion-dollar price tag, and the delivery of new ones can take more than six months, added Representative Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat. “There’s a question of whether the federal government should be stockpiling these transformers,” he said. “Now, they’re basically custom orders.”

Federal agencies are planning for a possible widespread power outage. The Department of Energy has outage training exercises planned in the Pacific Northwest in coming weeks, and the agency is researching ways to speed up the manufacturing of high-power transformers, said Patricia Hoffman, assistant secretary in the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is also planning for widespread electric outages, whether they’re caused by cyberattacks, natural disasters, or other scenarios, added W. Craig Fugate, FEMA’s administrator.

Rescuing people trapped in elevators and other security issues needs to be a top priority in an outage, he said, but long-term outages lead to “cascading effects.” The good news is the U.S. electric grid is built to route around local points of failure, added Caitlin Durkovich, assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the Department of Homeland Security.  “The grid, by its very design, is resilient,” she said. “The electric grid has been engineered with one principle in mind – reliability.”

The best way to prepare for the aftermath of a cyber-attack on the nation’s power systems is to build up the same emergency plans and supplies the government uses after other major disasters, like hurricanes and earthquakes. We all remember hurricane Katrina and the aftermath!

More Here [computerworld] [wsj] [nbcnews]

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