David Kirkpatrick

June 3, 2010

The US power grid and cyberattacks

A cyberattack is seen as the top current threat to the United States’ power grid. And given the mis-mash of legacy systems and out-dated infrastructure in places, the idea of a cyberattack isn’t all that hard to imagine.

From the link:

Cyber attacks, pandemics and electromagnetic disturbances are the three top “high impact” risks to the U.S. and Canadian power-generation grids, according to a report from the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC).

“The specific concern with respect to these threats is the targeting of multiple key nodes in the system, if damaged, destroyed or interrupted in a coordinated fashion, could bring the system outside the protection provided by traditional planning and operating criteria,” states the report, “High-Impact, Low-Frequency Risk to the North American Bulk Power System.”

The contents of the 118-page report are largely the result of closed-door discussions held since November by NERC (which plays a key role in setting security standards for the U.S. power grid), power providers and U.S. government officials.

The report, which calls for better coordination between U.S. power-grid providers and the government, sets the stage for what may be new guidelines and processes required to combat the major threats identified, according to NERC officials.

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