Can the power grid survive a cyberattack?
It’s very hard to overstate how important the US power grid is to American society and its economy. Every critical infrastructure, from communications to water, is built on it and every important business function from banking to milking cows is completely dependent on it.
And the dependence on the grid continues to grow as more machines, including equipment on the power grid, get connected to the Internet. A report last year prepared for the President and Congress emphasized the vulnerability of the grid to a long-term power outage, saying “For those who would seek to do our Nation significant physical, economic, and psychological harm, the electrical grid is an obvious target.”
The damage to modern society from an extended power outage can be dramatic, as millions of people found in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The Department of Energy earlier this year said cybersecurity was one of the top challenges facing the power grid, which is exacerbated by the interdependence between the grid and water, telecommunications, transportation, and emergency response systems.
So what are modern grid-dependent societies up against? Can power grids survive a major attack? What are the biggest threats today?