Reporting from Mexico City…
While most demons conjured up by the U.S. propaganda machine are wispy hobgoblins made of lasers, smoke and mirrors, there’s one in particular that’s very real… and very dangerous
I’m talking about the extremely precarious nature of the power grid in the United States. It’s not a stretch of your editor’s imagination that a small group of hackers could take down the energy grid in the U.S. with a strong, coordinated attack.
And although distributed energy solutions are on the rise (pretty exciting stuff too… more on that, though, in a future episode), it might not be happening fast enough.
It may take one good and harsh wake-up call for Americans to really “get it.”
And if that’s the case, the path to a sane, distributed energy grid probably won’t be paved with common sense, forward thinking and human decency.
It might, in fact, require the rockiest road of them all — necessity.
That’s why, in today’s episode, we’ll show you the best and simplest way to prepare for any potential energy grid fallouts, uncovered by our crack research team here at Laissez Faire.
If the grid does take a hit, it will pay in spades to be prepared. Fortunately, preparation, it turns out, is pretty straightforward.
We’ll get to the simple solutions in a moment.
First, let’s dig deeper into the threat.
An “all-time high.”
Last week, Gerry Cauley, president of the grid operators group North American Electric Reliability Corporation, informed the Senate that the potential for a major cyber attack against the grid is “at an all time high.”
His comments were part of a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, an effort to find a solution to the looming cyberattack threat.
“We will never be complacent,” he said. “The risk is very real.”
Moreover, MIT researchers recently published a report titled, Keeping America Safe: Toward More Secure Networks for Critical Sectors.
“The digital systems that control critical infrastructure in the United States and most other countries,” reads the executive summary of the report, “are easily penetrated and architecturally weak, and we have known it for a long time.
“Yet,” it goes on, “Presidential leadership on infrastructure security has been hesitant and chiefly rhetorical, while system operators have tended to focus on short-term fixes and tactical improvements.”
The past 25 years, say the MIT experts, have seen both parties paying lip service to the threat of cyberattacks, with very little actually being done about it. This has led to, MIT News chimes in, “a series of short-term fixes they liken to a losing game of ‘Whac-a-Mole.’”
Blessed by Lady Luck. But for how long?
So far, surprisingly, no cyberattacks have been able to knock out power to any U.S. customers, but experts say this is more due to luck than appropriate protection.
It was only until late-2015 that many U.S. officials started taking this threat seriously. That was when, you might recall, hackers alleged to be part of a Russian hacker group “Sandworm” remotely switched off 30 substations in Ukraine, knocking out power for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians.
Today, some solutions, mostly of the band-aid variety, are crawling out of the cobwebbed tombs of the public domain.
According to the Department of Energy, roughly $250 million has been invested to combat cyberattacks on the U.S. grid. Partnerships such as the Cybersecurity Risk Information Sharing Program (CRISP) have been formed to help provide one another with real-time data on any threats spinning through the info-tubes.
“Nearly 80 percent of all U.S. electricity customers,” the Green Tech Media blog says, “get their power from utilities that are part of this group.”
Rise of the… “Cyber Ninja Force”… ?
Another group of IT professionals, known colloquially as the “cyber-ninja force,” is being formed as a coalition of first-responders.
“The cyber mutual assistance program,” Duane Highley, president and CEO of the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, said during the Senate hearing, “operates parallel to the utilities and has 93 members. It sends IT professionals to assist with the restoration” of failed systems.
This is all well and good.
But most of these “solutions” are superficial and reactionary, far from solving the fundamental vulnerabilities of the U.S. energy grid — giving you all the more reason to shield yourself from any potential failures immediately.
“At some point or another, it’s going to happen.”
Former journalist, Ted Koppel, in this regard, has penned a harrowing book called, Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath.
It no longer takes a bullet, bomb or missile to bring a country, even one as “advanced” as the U.S., to its knees.
And according to Koppel, it’s only a matter of time until a gruesome cyber attack causes a cascading grid failure in the United States. Fact is, our current grid was created without taking the complexity of the Internet-age into account. It’s nowhere near robust enough, in its current form, for the digital age.
And although, yes, there is a small “prosumer” movement rising up in America — not to mention viable solutions for incorporating blockchain tech — mass adoption is still years away.
“We live in an age when the Internet has become, in addition to its undeniable virtues, a weapon of mass destruction. We have to come to terms with that,” Koppel told the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. “It is naïve in the extreme, to the point of criminality, in fact, that we are not prepared for the likelihood of a cyberattack on our infrastructure. At some point or another, it is going to happen.”
The best ways to prepare.
The first step is always education. Get familiar with the threats. Koppel, in his book Lights Out, does a good job, from what I’ve seen, of presenting the problem without the apocalyptic hype.
The second step is to prepare. Understand the implications of a grid collapse and, more importantly, what you would need in case a prolonged grid failure actually happens.
For that, we turn to our colleague Jason Hanson, a former CIA officer and editor of Spy and Survival Briefing.
For a limited time, Jason Hanson is offering to ship Ted Koppel’s book, Lights Out, to your doorstep, alongside his “spy emergency kit” — absolutely FREE.
Yes, there’s a small catch to accepting this free, potentially life-saving package. But once you see what it is, I think it’s a catch you’re not going to mind.
For your safety,
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today
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