Are You Ready For a Complete Power Grid Blackout?

By: Joshua Cook
31

It’s the most fragile part of our infrastructure. The power grid. Could the nation’s power grid withstand physical and cyber attacks?

In a report published on the technology website Ars Technica says that one power company received an incredible 10,000 attempted cyber attacks per month.

U.S. Reps. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) sent 15 questions to more than 150 utilities and received replies from 112 of them. Only 53 utilities responded to all of the questions, and their answers will shock you.PWER GRID

More than a dozen utilities reported “daily,” “constant,” or “frequent” attempted cyber attacks ranging from phishing to malware infection to unfriendly probes. A Midwestern power provider said that it was “subject to ongoing malicious cyber and physical activity. For example, we see probes on our network to look for vulnerabilities in our systems and applications on a daily basis. Much of this activity is automated and dynamic in nature—able to adapt to what is discovered during its probing process.”

How can we make sure those attempts aren’t successful?

According to the New York Times, that hair-raising, nerve-wracking question will be put to the test in November when a full-scale drill takes place, testing our preparedness.

Thousands of utility workers, business executives, National Guard officers, FBI anti-terrorism experts and other government officials here and in Canada and Mexico will participate in the drill that will simulate both physical and cyber attacks that could potentially cripple large sections of the power grid.

“It’s a simulation, sort of,” said a compliance officer at a large power company. “The program administrator will inject these simulations and test their response team to see what the reaction is and how fast you can get your grip back up.”

This is what our inside source was told when he asked a compliance officer about this drill in November.

Our source told Benswann.com, “SCADA systems are the ones that control all the power plant systems.  It stands for “Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition”.  SCADA systems vary from product to product and company to company.  A virus could potentially be made to gain control of that system.  These can and are remotely controlled via the web in many cases.  For instance, I can log in and control a wind turbine across the country with my laptop.”

He wonders what the compliance officer meant by the drill being sort of a simulation and took the officer’s response as it maybe a hybrid simulation that is actually tied to utility company’s hardware or assets.


One goal of the drill, called GridEx II, is to explore how governments would react as the loss of the grid crippled the supply chain for everyday necessities.

Government agencies have participated in drills before but never practiced what would happen if the power grid when down and didn’t come back in a timely fashion.

The drill is part of a give-and-take in the past few years between the government and utilities that has exposed the difficulties of securing the electric system.

The grid is essential for almost everything, but it is mostly controlled by investor-owned companies or municipal or regional agencies. According to the White House, 99 percent of military facilities rely on commercial power.

According to The Guardian, an attack effecting things like the power grid isn’t just reserved for big Hollywood action movies. The Guardian reported that in 1961 the U.S. Air Force came dramatically close to almost detonating an atom bomb in Goldsboro, N.C.  that would have been 260 times more powerful than what the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima during World War II.

The Guardian reports that the document obtained by the investigative journalist Eric Schlosser under the Freedom of Information Act, gives the first conclusive evidence that the U.S. was narrowly spared a disaster of monumental proportions when two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on January 23, 1961. The bombs fell to earth after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air, and one of the devices behaved precisely as a nuclear weapon was designed to behave in warfare: its parachute opened, its trigger mechanisms engaged, and only one low-voltage switch prevented untold carnage.

In addition to accidents and weather-related disasters like Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. has to be prepared for the likelihood of foreign attack using atomic weapons.

Recently South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham warned the U.S. of a potential nuclear attack in Charleston Harbor if the US doesn’t respond effectively and swiftly to Syria, Iran who, according to Graham will likely continue to develop nuclear weapons.

According to a report published on the website of the CBS affiliate in Charlotte: He says if there is no U.S. response, Iran will not believe America’s resolve to block Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Graham also says those nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists could result in a bomb coming to Charleston Harbor.”

The threat to the America’s power grid is real whether from a cyber attack, a nuclear strike or pulse bomb. Industry experts describe our grid system as our ‘Glass Jaw’ and expect that a major attack on the grid system is inevitable.

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Joshua Cook

Joshua Cook is the acting Chairman for the Republican Liberty Caucus of South Carolina. Joshua Cook's articles have also been cited on sites such as InfoWars, Reason.com, WND.com, Breitbart.com, DailyCaller and FreedomOutPost.com. If you have any tips please email me at [email protected] Like me on FB and follow me on Twitter.

  • 1Finngal

    This is an IMPORTANT reason to fight back against the “Smart Grid” and “Smart Meters.” They make us ALL more vulnerable to cyber attacks.

    • gas

      fight with our hands and bottomless pockets? fight how? with what? stamp my feet? bureaucrats have time on their hands to enjoy that.

      • Dude

        Reject smart meters.

  • Ryan

    I hate nontechnical reports like this that exaggerate “cyber threats” – give me a break. I can “attack” this site with a free app on my iPhone, 10,000 times in about a minute. Any server on the Internet has this concern and there are plenty of ways to firewall and protect against them. This is manufactured scare-news that is pointless. I expected better from Ben Swann’s network and I suspect this is why the kickstarter failed.

    • Thomas Anderson

      As a server administrator who has to respond to cyber threats daily, I assure you there is nothing manufactured about the threat. While the vast majority of automated probes and worms can be kept at bay through sufficient security precautions, all software is vulnerable to hacking via accidental misconfiguration (not uncommon in complex systems) or zero-day vulnerabilities. The fact that public utility systems are connected to the public internet at all is disturbing.

    • http://FreedomOutpost.com/ Tim Brown

      I don’t think this was a ‘scare-news,’ merely informational. Furthermore, firewalls didn’t seem to be too savvy in protecting the DOJ, CIA and other government websites from Anonymous attacks.

    • gas

      notice of a huge government-municipal drill is heads-up for being in the center of a massacre like in 9/11. you missed that point.

  • Kevin Merck

    Solar flares can knock out all of our satellites and bring the grid down as well.

    An attack on the grid from a human source will come from our own government and their refusal to take appropriate actions necessary to safeguard us from a grid failure (for any reason) is proof positive that they don’t want the problem resolved.

    Grid failure is a surefire and “green” way to kill 90% of the American people in a couple weeks and they aren’t going to squander that for any reason.

    • Lucky Leisuresuit Larry

      I disagree; I see it as a way for people to wake up and take the country back because there will be no way to distract them with bs tele & internet trash.

      • Kevin Merck

        The problem is that most people are not at all prepared for a grid collapse. The store shelves would be empty the first day, so if you’re like most people, they only have a few canned goods and then it’s every dog for himself.
        There has been in depth analysis done on what would take place and it’s not a pretty picture.
        There would be a massive die off and it would happen very fast.

        • gas

          you seem right. where i live, in western NY state, our community will cling to the Bilderberg nipple at all cost, regardless of what it does to us. the first thing the municipality representatives here will say is “oh sht. quick turn on CNN (CIA) to see what they need us to do”

  • ZakCarter

    Getting off the grid beats being worried about it!

    • gas

      kind of. nationwide nuclear meltdown will ruin a family getaway any day.

  • PattyHenry

    good article, but your grammar and word usage detracts from credibility… effect vs. affect: http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/style-and-usage/affect-effect-grammar.html

  • Thomas Anderson

    Don’t forget that the grid is also subject to cascade failure from run-of-the-mill problems, like we saw about 10 years ago with the Northeast blackout. There’s no reason to believe that anything has gotten better in that regard; probably worse.

    Moreover, in the event of a major fiscal or currency disruption — government shutdown or hyperinflation — certain supply chain elements could break down and cause utility service to cease.

    • Kevin Merck

      Well said.
      It’s really not a question of if, it’s more a question of when.

    • Gas

      the likelihood that wasn’t a Cheney/Bush family test is next to none, seeing that Bilderberg liked to go big in those years and that every other thing that could possibly be staged is, at least since satanist Will Penis Clinton.

  • https://www.facebook.com/General.L33 Truth Troll

    Be prepared. That’s all I can say.

  • Dawn

    Its going to be allot easier once they change everyone over to AMR and Smart meters. It still amazing only a few are fighting to rid these meters. Everyone in America should be fighting to rid them.

  • jd

    Instead of upgrading our power grids and sources, we spend billions on war…

  • randpaul2016

    Scary..
    Definitly be prepared!

  • nwosucks

    Did anyone else notice the test is again being held with Canada and Mexico? Pretty sure we are living in The North American Union with out even noticing it.

  • randpaul2016

    Ben when are you going to run for office??
    We need good rational people in office if were going to change this!

  • Mr. power inverter

    There has been a 17-fold increase on computer cyber-attacks against America’s infrastructure from 2009-2011.

    America’s top military official, General Keith B. Alexander,
    responsible for defending American soil against cyber-attacks, states
    that America ranks as a “3” on a scale of 1-10 with “10” meaning ‘very
    well prepared.’ Anyone well-versed in basic technology could bring down
    America’s electrical networks that control power servers that are
    connected to the internet.

    By having power inverters on hand, a family can be proactively prepared for the unthinkable.

    Sabotaging the entire electric grid of the U.S. is not too far-fetched.

    North Korea has made threats to do just that by detonating a nuclear
    bomb 250-300 miles into space above the United States. This would cause
    an electromagnetic pulse, known as EMP. North Korea is developing
    super EMP warheads with help of Russia. If unstable N.Korea leader
    should detonate atmospheric bomb, Electricity could be down for months
    or more.

    Power inverters work independently of the utility
    company and electric grid. Power inverters allow one to become
    independent of the power grid system and use electricity endlessly with
    inverters that utilize solar and wind energy systems.

    Thank you,
    http://www.Donrowe.com

  • Mr Mystery Meat

    This doesnt bother me. Im glad, and can deal with, them getting a plan of action for this.

  • fbrier

    These numbers seem inflated and prone to distortion. You would need to compare the number of “attacks” a non-utility company suffers compared to the utility. You can’t lump phishing and malware infection in with unfriendly probes. You have to compare rates on phishing and infection with those suffered by similarly protected companies and do it on a per computer basis. If a utility has 10,000 computers among its employees and you count phishing and malware infections, of course you could get daily “attacks”. You need to compare the number of probes launched at firewalled gateways with other companies rates of probes. This could very well be fear mongering to justify some agencies boondoggle drill.

    • jdizzle

      that’s just like your opinion man

  • gas

    wtf

  • john

    More CRAP!!!! As far as I know the Power Grids are controlled regionally. You would have to target many facilities to have ANY major effect on the country. Ever see “Live Free Or Die Hard” where such a scenario is played out. Well the bad guys had to go to West Virgina to shut down power on the east coast. These power centers are NOT connected to the internet so someone would have to go there physically and shut off the power. So I will sleep easily tonight not afraid of the truckers “general strike-what a joke!, and the power grid conspiracy.

  • Casper

    nope, not at all. one can never be prepared for any negative circumstance, doing so eliminates any challenge life offers. ofc caketime is nice, but you miss the riffraff eventually.

  • Gg

    I am not worried about scada, as a 30 year utility employee, my concern is an EMP. that Is mor than a regional threat, that is a national threat