A Cyber-Risk We’re Not Prepared For: What if the Power Grid Collapsed and America Went Dark?

The following is press coverage on the NCGR’s new report, courtesy of washingtonpost.com.

EVERY CATASTROPHE comes as a shock, but many shouldn’t come as a surprise. Just as we knew a pandemic was a possibility yet failed to plan for it, power-grid collapse is a threat we should be prepared for — but aren’t.

The National Commission on Grid Resilience, chaired by former NATO supreme allied commander Wesley K. Clark and former congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and convened to assess our ability to prevent or respond to a so-called black sky event, concludes in a report released Thursday that the country has fallen behind. The danger of a nation gone dark is rising. There have always been natural disasters to contend with, but now adversaries’ cyber capabilities are growing: 2015 saw Russia deprive more than 200,000 people in Ukraine of power for almost six hours in the middle of winter. Russia even managed to cause physical damage to equipment from afar. The search for efficiency in the electric energy market has added vulnerability; replacing mechanical controls with remote ones opens a new vector of attack, for instance, and so do the smart devices proliferating on the edge of the grid. Society’s increasing reliance on the Internet more generally pushes the stakes higher.

The United States’ electric grid is dynamic and diverse. This is perhaps a boon to consumers looking for lower costs, but a burden when it comes to securing the system. Generators, transmitters, distributors and retail providers are so interconnected that a salvo against one could set off a chain reaction across companies and states. Because the private sector largely owns and operates these critical assets, the government can’t simply execute a course of action. Then there’s the problem of classified information: You can’t very well counter a threat if you don’t know what it is because you don’t have the appropriate clearance.

The report offers several recommendations, including: Establish a clearinghouse to give system operators the information they need — and help them get access to classified information. Create and fund an agency to identify emerging threats and vulnerabilities. Build a nationwide testing network of microgrids designed to survive blackouts at federal facilities. Improve standards and reporting practices for the private sector, and reward those that demonstrate resilience. Invest in U.S. manufacturers to supply the largest and most essential transformers. Experts suspect China has already implanted malware in critical infrastructure.

This will require leadership and an ability to imagine a disaster that has yet to occur but too easily could — so that if the shock comes, we will be ready instead of surprised.

Article by The Washington Post’s Editorial Board.

 

In Other News…

ACEAP Ambassador Heads into Space as First African-American Woman to Pilot Spacecraft

Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program participant pilots SpaceX Dragon spacecraftToday Sian Proctor, a participant in the Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program (ACEAP) has successfully piloted the Inspiration4 mission carrying her and three other...

NSF Awards Funding for Next-Generation VLA Antenna Development

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) $23 million for design and development work on the Next Generation Very Large Array (ngVLA), including producing a prototype antenna.

Andean Science Diplomacy: Interview with Chile’s Ambassador to the U.S., Ambassador Silva

Ambassador Alfonso Silva Navarro leads Chile’s Embassy to the United States since September 2018. His extensive diplomatic career includes being the Chilean Ambassador to Canada, India, and Jamaica, as well as being the Director General on Foreign Affairs at Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

NANOGrav & Green Bank Telescope Poised to Make Groundbreaking Discoveries of Gravitational Wave Universe

For the next three years, astronomers from the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) will have increased access and new technologies to use on the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in their breakthrough scientific studies of gravitational waves.

Astronomers make first clear detection of a moon-forming disc around an exoplanet

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter /submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is a partner, astronomers have unambiguously detected the presence of a disc around a planet outside our Solar System for the first time.

AUI and Accumen Partner to Increase Crisis Resilience to Natural and Manmade Disasters for Healthcare Sector

AUI and Accumen, Inc. announced they are partnering to provide services to improve crisis resilience to manmade and natural disasters for the healthcare sector at a historically challenging time.

New Scholarship Established by the AUI Board of Trustees

AUI and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) today announced the establishment of the AUI Board of Trustees NAC Bridge Scholarship Award.

2021 Jansky Lectureship Awarded to Mexican Astronomer

Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) have awarded the 2021 Karl G. Jansky Lectureship to Professor Luis F. Rodriguez of the National University of Mexico (UNAM).

Pride Month Statement

Pride Month is a time for celebration of LGBTQIA+ communities in commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising of 1969. At AUI, we celebrate an environment that is safe and welcoming to all, and the strength that our diversity brings us.

Cyber Expert Wins FBI Community Leadership Award

Robert R. Wells, special agent in charge of the Charlotte Division of the FBI has chosen a local cyber expert as the 2020 Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA) recipient for North Carolina. Torry Crass has been an invaluable partner to the FBI Charlotte field office since 2013.

You are now leaving AUI

You will be redirected to the related partnering organization's website.

You will be redirected to
in 4 seconds...

Click the link above to continue or CANCEL