Archive for the ‘Man-made disasters’ Category

Here’s an update to an earlier post (US power grid problems from multiple threats) from June 10, 2011: https://tapister.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/us-power-grid-problems-from-multiple-threats/ Read that post first for more background and links.

 A view of the U.S. power grid from inside of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas's command center in Taylor, Texas. REUTERS

A view of the U.S. power grid from inside of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’s command center in Taylor, Texas. REUTERS

Small-scale power grid attack could cause nationwide blackout, study says
FoxNews.com online
Published March 13, 2014

The U.S. could suffer a national blackout if attackers knocked out just nine of the country’s electric-transmission substations on a hot summer day, according to a previously unreported study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The study concluded that coordinated attacks in each of the nation’s three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the agency’s research.

The commission concluded that the three electrical systems that serve the entire nation could go dark if as few as nine of the country’s 55,000 electric-transmission substations were knocked out in the East, the West and in Texas, according to the report.

“This would be an event of unprecedented proportions,” Ross Baldick, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, told the newspaper.

According to Wall Street Journal, study’s results have been known for months by the White House, Congress and officials at federal agencies, who were briefed by then-FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff and others at the commission.

Wellinghoff has voiced concerns about an April 2013 attack on Pacific Gas & Electric’s transmission substation in Metcalf, Calif., that lasted 52 minutes and knocked out 17 transformers.

The attack started when at least one person entered an underground vault to cut telephone cables, then attackers fired more than 100 shots, causing millions in damage. Workers were able to avert a blackout but it took them 27 days to repair the damage.

No arrests have been made in the case.

A memo prepared at the commission for Wellinghoff before he briefed senior officials last year said “the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer” if attackers knocked out just nine substations.

The California attack “demonstrates that it does not require sophistication to do significant damage to the U.S. grid,” according to the memo, which was written by Leonard Tao, FERC’s director of external affairs, and reviewed by The Journal.

The memo suggested that an attack-induced blackout could be particularly long, in part because each of the three regional electric systems—the West, the East and Texas—have limited interconnections, limiting their ability to assist each other in the event of an emergency, The Journal reported.

Executives at several utility companies told the newspaper they are boosting security at their facilities. Virginia-based Dominion Resources Inc., said it planned to spend $300 million to $500 million within seven years to improve security capabilities.

Cheryl LaFleur, acting chairwoman of the FERC, said in a statement released late Wednesday that The Journal’s publication of “sensitive material about the grid crosses the line from transparency to irresponsibility, and gives those who would do us harm a roadmap to achieve malicious designs.”

“We take seriously our obligation to the American people to protect the reliability and security of our nation’s energy infrastructure and to enhance its resilience,” LaFleur said.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/03/13/us-risks-national-blackout-from-power-grid-attack-study-says/

https://tapister.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/us-power-grid-problems-from-multiple-threats/

Microbes on floating ocean plastics: Uncovering the secret world of the ‘Plastisphere’
24 Feb 2014
ScienceDaily.com

MicrobesOnPlastiphereSEA Education Association scientist Greg Boyd holds recovered foam floats containing invertebrates and microbial biofilm. New research being presented at the Ocean Sciences Meeting delves deeper into the role microbial communities living on plastic marine debris play in the ocean ecosystem. Credit: Erik Zettler, SEA

Scientists are revealing how microbes living on floating pieces of plastic marine debris affect the ocean ecosystem, and the potential harm they pose to invertebrates, humans and other animals. New research being presented here today delves deeper into the largely unexplored world of the “Plastisphere” — an ecological community of microbial organisms living on ocean plastic that was first discovered last year.

When scientists initially studied the Plastisphere, they found that at least 1,000 different types of microbes thrive on these tiny plastic islands, and that they might pose a risk to larger animals, including invertebrates and humans. The original studies also showed that the Plastisphere’s inhabitants included bacteria known to cause diseases in animals and humans.

Since then, researchers have been trying to figure out why these potentially dangerous bacteria live on the Plastisphere, how they got there and how they are affecting the surrounding ocean.

New evidence suggests that “super-colonizers” form detectable clusters on the plastic in minutes. Other findings indicate that some types of harmful bacteria favor plastics more than others. And, scientists are exploring if fish or other ocean animals may be helping these pathogens thrive by ingesting the plastic. That could allow bacteria to acquire additional nutrients as they pass through the guts of the fish, said Tracy Mincer, an associate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass.

Revealing this information could help scientists better understand how much of a potential threat these harmful bacteria pose and the role the Plastisphere plays in the larger ocean ecosystem, including its potential to alter nutrients in the water. That information could also help reduce the impact of plastic pollution in the ocean — for instance, if plastics manufacturers learned how to make their products so they degrade at an optimal rate, Mincer said.

“One of the benefits of understanding the Plastisphere right now and how it interacts with biota in general, is that we are better able to inform materials scientists on how to make better materials and, if they do get out to sea, have the lowest impact possible,” said Mincer, who discovered the Plastisphere last year along with Linda Amaral-Zettler at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and Erik Zettler at the SEA Education Association, both also in Woods Hole.

The Plastisphere team is presenting their latest research on these communities today at the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting, which is co-sponsored by the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, The Oceanography Society and the American Geophysical Union.

Other new results include discoveries about how the plastic is colonized and how it interacts with other marine organisms. Yet additional findings shed light on the similarities and differences between Plastisphere communities in different locations and on different types of plastic. This research could help scientists determine the age of plastic floating in the ocean, which could help them figure out how it breaks down in the water. It could also potentially aid in determining where the plastic debris came from, and how the plastic and the microbes that live on board could impact organisms that come into contact with them, the scientists said.

“It is clear,” said Amaral-Zettler, “that the Plastisphere definitely has a function out there in the ocean” and these experiments seek to quantify what it is.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140224171658.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28Latest+Science+News+–+ScienceDaily%29

Related information on the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, aka Trash Vortex:
Great Pacific Garbage Patch: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_garbage_patch
The Trash Votex: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/oceans/pollution/trash-vortex/

Through the Gyre Infographic: http://freshkillspark.wordpress.com/2009/05/14/the-great-pacific-garbage-patch/
(Click on infographic image to enlarge.)

PacificGarbagetrans0509throughthegyre

The Congressman who went off the grid
Roscoe Bartlett spent 20 years on Capitol Hill. Now he lives in a remote cabin in the woods, prepping for doomsday.
By JASON KOEBLER
Politico online, 3 January 2014

roscoebartlett

Dr. Roscoe Bartlett entered public service after “…a science career that saw him go through IBM in its start-up years and the U.S. Navy as an engineer, before becoming director of the Space Life Sciences research group at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where he helped the U.S. win the space race by, among other things, developing a device that allows astronauts to breathe at high altitudes and low temperatures.”

When Roscoe Bartlett was in Congress, he latched onto a particularly apocalyptic issue, one almost no one else ever seemed to talk about: America’s dangerously vulnerable power grid. If the United States doesn’t do something to protect the grid, and soon, a terrorist or an act of nature will put an end to life as we know it.

Bartlett loved to conjure doomsday visions: Think post-Sandy New York City without power but spread over a much larger area for months at a time. He once recounted a conversation he claimed to have had with unnamed Russian officials about how they could take out the United States: They would “detonate a nuclear weapon high above your country,” he recalled them saying, “and shut down your power grid — and your communications — for six months or so.”

(Retired from office now) …. Having failed to safeguard the power grid for the rest of the country, Bartlett has taken himself completely off the grid.

Bartlett'sCabin
I visited Bartlett this past fall. During the four hours he spends showing me around, Bartlett continually stresses his reliance on only very basic technology to make his little corner of West Virginia livable — the solar panels and the batteries they charge, the power inverters, the water pipes and the wood stoves.

Bartlett tells me that the farm’s simplicity is a challenge, but it’s also an insurance policy. If he were to die, he says, his wife might not be able to repair more complicated technology. And besides, he tells me, if he used higher-tech power inverters “loaded with computers and chips and stuff,” they might fail, and then they’d be in trouble. I ask why that would be an issue — couldn’t they just drive to the nearest town to pick one up or order a new one off the Internet? “I have no idea,” he answers. “A giant solar storm? EMPs?”

EMP is shorthand for electromagnetic pulse, an electronic disturbance that can be delivered by a warhead — nuclear or otherwise — and that can instantly short out electrical equipment for as long as months at a time. For survivalists of Bartlett’s bent, it is one of the terrifying threats against which all this living off the land is designed to protect.

As Bartlett points out to me, every single one of America’s 17 critical infrastructure systems — food and agriculture, water and sewer, transportation, emergency services and so on — are useless without electricity. Here in West Virginia, running a power system completely independent of the municipality, he’s safe in the event of a massive outage. (His wife also notes helpfully that at 4,000 feet, “an awful lot of the country could get flooded before it gets here.”)

And EMPs aren’t the only source of Bartlett’s concern. In 1859, the sun unleashed a flare — a powerful storm of energy — in the direction of the Earth. The charged particles from the storm lit telegraph wires on fire and put others out of commission for months. That storm is now known as the “Carrington Event,” after Dr. Joseph Carrington, the man who studied it. Such storms are estimated to occur once every 150 years — which means we’re overdue for another one…

A similar event today could knock out the power grid between Washington and New York for up to two years, according to a June report by Lloyd’s, a British group that assesses risk for insurance companies.

In the last 36 months, there have been solar storms strong enough to disrupt GPS satellites, threaten the International Space Station and knock crucial military satellites offline for a few minutes. Stronger storms would damage or destroy electronics on Earth for an unknown period of time, and an EMP would have a similar effect. According to Bartlett, a terrorist with a “$100,000 Scud launcher and any crude nuclear weapon” could detonate a bomb above the atmosphere and knock out power for more than a year.

There are ways to “harden,” or protect, electrical transformers and other infrastructure, but doing so is costly. After a solar storm knocked out power in Quebec for 12 hours in 1989, the Canadian government invested $1.2 billion in hardening its grid, but no similar actions have been taken in the United States.

Read the entire article — it’s well worth the time. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/01/roscoe-bartlett-congressman-off-the-grid-101720.html#.UsgUaPu8qAp

Screenshot from one of the online news sources I read daily…


http://english.aljazeera.net

“You shall hear of wars and rumors of wars… nations shall rise up against nations, and kingdom against kingdom… all these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24:6-8

From Time U.S.
12 October 2012

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued what he said is a “clarion call” Thursday for Americans to wake up to the growing threat posed by cyber war.

“The whole point of this is that we simply don’t just sit back and wait for a goddamn crisis to happen,” Panetta told Time. “In this country we tend to do that, and that’s a concern.”

Panetta came to the nation’s financial hub – New York City – to issue his battle cry. The city is the brightest bulls-eye on the American target for foes wishing to cripple the U.S. economy with computerized “worms” and “malware” that can infect computer networks via the Internet or insider sabotage.

“It is the kind of capability that can basically take down a power grid, take down a water system, take down a transportation system, take down a financial system,” he told Time editors. “We are now in a world in which countries are developing the capability to engage in the kind of attacks that can virtually paralyze a country.”

Aware his alarm might be drowned out by Thursday night’s vice presidential debate, Panetta stopped by the magazine’s midtown offices Thursday afternoon to detail his concerns to a Time editorial board gathering.

“Everybody knows what their iPhone can do, everybody knows what their computer can do, but I think there are too few people out there who understand the potential for the kind of attack that could cripple this country,” Panetta said. “The American people just have to be made aware of that.”

Panetta cited a series of “disruptive” attacks against U.S. companies, and detailed the far more serious so-called “Shamoon” virus attack on the Saudi Arabian state oil company, Aramco. That August strike wiped out 30,000 of the companies computers. It created the image of a U.S. flag in flames on the infected computers and “it basically burned [the computers] up,” Panetta said. It marked, he said, a significant escalation in cyber warfare.

In the hour-long session with the magazine’s editors, he also said:

— “We are facing the threat of a new arena in warfare that could be every bit as destructive as 9/11 — the American people need to know that. We can’t hide this from the American people any more than we should have hidden the terrorism-attack threat from the American people.”

— “The three potential adversaries out there that are developing the greatest capabilities are Russia, China, Iran.

— “Out of a scale of 10, we’re probably 8 [in cyber-war skills. But potential foes] are moving up on the scale – probably the others are about a 3, somewhere in that vicinity, but they’re beginning to move up.”

— He also said the U.S. military is stepping up its offensive cyber war capability: “I think we have to develop the ability to conduct counter-operations against a country we know, or anticipate, that they’re going to launch that kind of attack. So we have to have both defensive and offensive capabilities.”

Beyond merely shutting down enemy systems, the U.S. military is crafting a witch’s brew of stealth, manipulation and falsehoods designed to lure the enemy into believing he is in charge of his forces when, in fact, they have been secretly enlisted as allies of the U.S. military. The U.S. already has deployed a cyber-war offensive technology against Iran’s nuclear program, the New York Times has reported.

But the U.S. is also a target. Panetta said “potential aggressors” are probing for weaknesses in the nation’s cyber defenses. “They’re beginning to exploit transportation systems, power systems, energy systems,” he said. “Our concern is that in doing that kind of exploration, they’re doing it for purposes of determining how could they attack.”

The defense chief added that the Pentagon’s still-fuzzy rules of engagement for waging war in cyber space are being tightened, and will allow the Pentagon to defend other U.S. networks, in and out of government. But such technology isn’t cheap: major defense contractors see cyber defense as the next post-9/11 money pot – annual cyber spending is about $12 billion.

In his speech Thursday night before Business Executives for National Security from the hangar deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, Panetta warned of cyber terrorists derailing U.S. passenger trains – as well as trains laden with lethal chemicals. He told Time’s editors that both Congress and U.S. businesses have been hesitant to pass legislation – and make the investments necessary – to defend the nation’s critical cyber infrastructure from attack. Part of the reason for speaking out, he said, is to generate public pressure on lawmakers to act.

That’s one reason President Obama designated October as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Private-sector companies wonder if the government is exaggerating the threat. They seem willing to wait for an “electronic Pearl Harbor” to justify the investments they would need to make to protect their info-infrastructure. But Panetta and others fear that could be too late.

“Government depends on these networks to defend this country,” Army General Keith Alexander, chief of U.S. Cyber Command , told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Oct. 4. “And it depends on the power grid to operate. So we have a vested interest in making sure that that works.”

Panetta said his prior job – running the CIA – gave him a close-up look at the damage a cagey cyber-warrior could do to the U.S. “I can tell you from my old job, the level of expertise that I saw – and I don’t consider myself to be schooled in the art of knowing what the hell cyber systems [do] and how it all works –- I’m not close to being there — but I saw people that are extremely bright, extremely able,” he said

“They can develop the kind of malware that has tremendous potential to bring down systems very effectively,” Panetta continued, making clear the U.S. is exploring offensive cyber weapons. ”Frankly, in my past capacity, having seen that potential — and now, as secretary of defense, I’m now beginning to see how that is beginning to get in to the arena of other countries that are saying: `Whoa, this has got some great potential.’”

http://nation.time.com/2012/10/12/panetta-sounds-alarm-on-cyber-war-threat/

This article is several years old, but still interesting. Dr. Vardiman is Chair of the Department of Astro/Geophysics. Dr. Svensmark’s findings were verified by CERN experiments, the findings published in August 2011. Although still generating controversy, they are fascinating nevertheless. More study is ongoing by climate scientists.

Institute for Creation Research
by Larry Vardiman, Ph.D.

Introduction

Man-made carbon dioxide is generally thought to produce global warming. However, in a recent article entitled “Does Carbon Dioxide Drive Global Warming?” I presented several major reasons why carbon dioxide is probably not the primary cause.  But if carbon dioxide is not the cause, then what is?

Evidence is accumulating that cosmic rays associated with fluctuations in the sun’s electromagnetic field may be what drives global warming. A new theory called cosmoclimatology that proposes a natural mechanism for climate fluctuations has been developed by Henrik Svensmark, Head of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish National Space Center.

Some History

Edward L. Maunder reported in 1904 that the number of spots on the sun has an 11-year cycle. Sunspots can be observed in real time online at www.spaceweather.com. Figure 1 shows a 400-year record of the monthly number of sunspots. Note the low number of sunspots in the period from 1645 to 1715. This period is called the Maunder Minimum4 and coincides with the Little Ice Age, the coldest period of temperature during the last 1,000 years.

For many years, climatologists attempted to correlate the number of sunspots with various climate variables, including temperature and precipitation. By the 1980s these attempts were determined to be futile, because the percentage change in solar heating was found to be insufficient to explain the variations. However, this interest began to increase the connection between cosmic rays and sunspots, carbon-14 in the atmosphere, beryllium-10 on the surface of meteorites, and other processes.

In particular, it was found that carbon-14 dating needed to be corrected for fluctuations in cosmic ray flux. Without such adjustments, many carbon-14 dates were inconsistent. The question was raised, could cosmic rays affect other geophysical phenomena as well?

A New Climate Theory

In 1995, Henrik Svensmark discovered a startling connection between the cosmic ray flux from space and cloud cover. He found that when the sun is more active — more sunspots, a stronger magnetic field, larger auroras, stronger solar winds, etc. — fewer cosmic rays strike the earth and cloud cover is reduced, resulting in warmer temperatures.

Figure 2 shows the relationship he found between low-level cloud amount derived from satellite data from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project and cosmic ray counts from Climax, Colorado.

It is evident in Figure 2 that for the 22-year period from 1983 to 2005, the average amount of low-level cloud follows the flux of cosmic rays very closely. In fact, Svensmark claims that the correlation coefficient is 0.92, a very high correlation for this type of data.

In addition, when looking at various longer periods of record using proxy data for these two variables, he also found good correlations and similar trends. In particular, he suggested that during the Little Ice Age when the sun was inactive, cosmic ray flux from space was high, cloud amount was greater, and global temperatures were cooler.

As the sun became more active after 1750, cosmic ray flux decreased, cloud amount decreased, and global temperatures warmed. Svensmark proposed that the global warming we’ve experienced for the past 150 years is a direct result of an increase in solar activity and attendant warming.

A potential change in cloud cover of 3-4 percent caused by changes in cosmic ray flux is sufficient to explain global temperature changes of several degrees due to the change in the reflectivity of clouds. The reason the variation in direct radiation from the sun was rejected earlier is because it has been found to vary only by a few tenths of a percent. This is insufficient to explain observed global warming.

Experiments on Cloud Condensation Nuclei

These statistical correlations are intriguing, but many critics are skeptical of Svensmark’s theory until he can explain the mechanism by which cosmic rays create more clouds. This led him to design a laboratory experiment to demonstrate that cosmic rays produce more cloud nuclei on which cloud droplets can form. In 2007, Svensmark et al published the results of an experiment which confirmed his theory that cosmic rays increase the number of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN).

Most CCN that nucleate cloud droplets in water clouds near the earth’s surface are composed of compounds of sulfuric acid derived from water vapor, sulphur dioxide, and ozone found in the atmosphere over the ocean. Svensmark built a cloud chamber containing these gases to see if CCN can be multiplied when cosmic rays are introduced into this mixture.

He found that the cosmic rays ionize molecules in the air, releasing electrons that in turn attach themselves to oxygen molecules and collect other water and sulfur dioxide molecules to form clusters. This process occurs extremely rapidly and many times for each electron. The electrons function as a catalyst to form clusters of molecules that grow and produce sulfuric acid CCN. When the air is lifted by normal meteorological processes, these additional CCN form more dense and widespread clouds because of their greater number.

In addition to the results Svensmark obtained from the experiment above, which he called SKY, he anticipates confirmation of his results in a more complete experiment called CLOUD to be conducted at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. The experiment at CERN was delayed numerous times, but has now been funded and approved for 2010. * (Results were confirmed by CERN experiments, findings published August 2011.)

Conclusions

Svensmark’s theory of cosmoclimatology is now complete. He has discovered a complete chain of events that explains the variations in global temperature that have puzzled climatologists for so many years, and that has now led to an explanation for the recent global warming episode. It starts with cosmic rays coming to earth from exploding supernovas and collisions of remnants of stars with nebula in space. Many of these cosmic rays are shielded from striking the earth by the electromagnetic activity of the sun.

When the sun is active, the solar wind prevents cosmic rays from entering the earth’s atmosphere by sweeping them around the earth. When the sun is inactive, more of them penetrate the atmosphere. Upon reaching the lower atmosphere where more sulphur dioxide, water vapor, and ozone is present, the cosmic rays ionize the air, releasing electrons that aid in the formation of more CCN and form more dense clouds. This increase in low-cloud amount reflects more solar energy to space, cooling the planet.

Variations in electromagnetic activity of the sun and fluctuations in cosmic ray intensity from space result in the periodic warming and cooling of the earth.

Solar-modulated cosmic ray processes successfully explain the recent global warming episode. It would be prudent for the political leadership in the U. S. and the world to look more closely at Svensmark’s theory of cosmoclimatology for an explanation of global warming before restructuring our entire economic system to eliminate carbon dioxide. If, in fact, Svensmark is correct, reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide will have little impact, anyway.

http://www.icr.org/article/4156/

* Results confirmed by CERN experiments Aug 2011. Click on link for more information.
http://thegwpf.org/science-news/3699-cern-experiment-confirms-cosmic-rays-influence-climate-change.html

June 9, 2011

The U.S. electric grid is a complex network of independently owned and operated power plants and transmission lines. Aging infrastructure, combined with a rise in domestic electricity consumption, has forced experts to critically examine the status and health of the nation’s electrical systems.

Here is an informative website on the United States power grid system, with numerous maps: http://www.solcomhouse.com/uspowergrid.htm

Right now various components of the United States power grid are experiencing problems from multiple threats.

(1) Arizona Wallow Fire Approaching Power Supplies to Two States (New Mexico and Texas)
Christian Post online June 9, 2011

Firefighters have battled through the night in an attempt to protect numerous Arizona mountain communities from the spreading Wallow fire that has forced thousands to evacuate and flee their homes.

The fire has now become the second largest ever seen in Arizona, and is threatening electricity supplies as far away as Texas.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/arizona-wallow-fire-approaching-power-supplies-to-two-states-51002/

(2) Extreme weather is causing scattered power outages across Canada and the United States, including Michigan, Illinois, Connecticut, New York, Masssachusetts, Virginia, and others. Some power grids have increased problems due to outdated infrastructure, such as Detroit:

Downtown Detroit left in the dark after power malfunction
Detroit Free Press online 9 June 2011

A major malfunction Thursday at the beleaguered Detroit Public Lighting Department knocked out Fire Department phones and power to traffic lights, municipal buildings, courts, schools and the People Mover, prompting fears that traffic snarls, widespread outages and disruptions likely would continue through tonight.

http://www.freep.com/article/20110610/NEWS01/106100445/Downtown-Detroit-left-dark-after-power-malfunction?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

From The Detroit News: City spokeswoman Karen Dumas said the outage was caused by extreme power demand for air conditioning after two days in the 90s.

http://detnews.com/article/20110609/METRO/106090463/Officials-say-heat-caused-Detroit-power-outage#ixzz1OrSpMtuC

(3) This Week’s Solar Flare Illuminates the Grid’s Vulnerability
New York Times online June 9, 2011

A massive burst of solar wind that erupted from the sun Tuesday is expected to deliver only a “glancing blow” to the Earth’s vulnerable magnetic field, NASA officials said yesterday. But it will preview what some experts call a potentially existential threat to the power grids of the United States and other nations, and the populations that depend on them.

http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2011/06/09/09climatewire-this-weeks-solar-flare-illuminates-the-grids-63979.html

(4) Cyber Attack on U.S. Electric Grid ‘Gravest Short Term Threat’ to National Security, Lawmakers Say
ABC News May 31, 2011

ABC News’ Huma Khan reports: The United States is ill-prepared to deal with a cyber attack on the nation’s electric grid, one of the biggest national security threats facing the country today, lawmakers warned.

“The sobering reality is this vulnerability, if left unaddressed, could have grave, societal-altering consequences,” Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee today. “We face a menace that may represent the gravest short term threat to the peace and security of the human family in the world today.”

Experiments by federal agencies in recent years have shown that cyber spies have intruded the U.S. electric system, and that it’s increasingly susceptible to attacks by hackers and foreign governments.

http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/05/cyber-attack-on-us-electric-grid-gravest-short-term-threat-to-national-security-lawmakers-say.html

Electricity Grid in U.S. Penetrated By Spies
Wall Street Journal online
April 8, 2009

WASHINGTON — Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.

The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven’t sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.

The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn’t target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official.

Authorities investigating the intrusions have found software tools left behind that could be used to destroy infrastructure components, the senior intelligence official said.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123914805204099085.html#ixzz1OrfUR1R4