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Grid Attack - How America Could Go Dark

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  • Grid Attack - How America Could Go Dark

    Grid Attack - How America Could Go Dark
    EXCERPT:
    Dozens of break-ins examined by The Wall Street Journal show how orders to secure the power grid have still left tens of thousands of utility substations vulnerable to terrorist saboteurs

    By Rebecca Smith

    An early morning passerby phoned in a report of two people with flashlights prowling inside the fence of an electrical substation in Bakersfield, Calif. Utility workers from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. later found cut transformer wires.

    The following night, someone slashed wires to alarms and critical equipment at the substation, which serves 16,700 customers. A guard surprised one intruder, who fled. Police never learned the identities or motive of the burglars.

    The Bakersfield attacks last year were among dozens of break-ins examined by The Wall Street Journal that show how, despite federal orders to secure the power grid, tens of thousands of substations are still vulnerable to saboteurs.

    The U.S. electric system is in danger of widespread blackouts lasting days, weeks or longer through the destruction of sensitive, hard-to-replace equipment. Yet records are so spotty that no government agency can offer an accurate tally of substation attacks, whether for vandalism, theft or more nefarious purposes.

    Most substations are unmanned and often protected chiefly by chain-link fences. Many have no electronic security, leaving attacks unnoticed until after the damage is done. Even if there are security cameras, they often prove worthless. In some cases, alarms are simply ignored.
    ....
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-amer...ark-1468423254

    About an eight page article and very interesting read. (Understand if the Mods think this belongs in another subforum.)

  • #2
    The best way to secure our nation: to publicly draw attention to how insecure our nation is.

    Or perhaps this is just further evidence that terrorists aren't as scary as we think, considering they can't even pull off what common burglars have been doing for years?

    Comment


    • #3
      Or, have one of these in your garage...

      Comment


      • #4
        What was it two years so some people shot up a critical substation out west? We had a thread here, it was claimed to be a practice run by terrorist. The end was near.......
        “The time has come,” the Walrus said,
        “To talk of many things:
        Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
        Of cabbages—and kings—
        And why the sea is boiling hot—
        And whether pigs have wings.”
        ― Lewis Carroll

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Combat Engineer View Post
          What was it two years so some people shot up a critical substation out west? We had a thread here, it was claimed to be a practice run by terrorist. The end was near.......
          From the linked article, QUOTE:
          The vulnerability of substations was broadly revealed in a Journal account of a 2013 attack on PG&E’s Metcalf facility near San Jose, Calif. Gunmen knocked out 17 transformers that help power Silicon Valley; a blackout was narrowly averted. The assailants were never caught.

          The following year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates the country’s interstate power system, began requiring that utilities better protect any substation that could disable parts of the U.S. grid if attacked.
          ....

          I notice that link only works when going thru Drudge Report (where I found it), so here's the link to their archive page. Center column about halfway down;
          http://www.drudgereportarchives.com/...713_220604.htm

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by G David Bock View Post
            From the linked article, QUOTE:
            The vulnerability of substations was broadly revealed in a Journal account of a 2013 attack on PG&E’s Metcalf facility near San Jose, Calif. Gunmen knocked out 17 transformers that help power Silicon Valley; a blackout was narrowly averted. The assailants were never caught.

            The following year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates the country’s interstate power system, began requiring that utilities better protect any substation that could disable parts of the U.S. grid if attacked.
            ....

            I notice that link only works when going thru Drudge Report (where I found it), so here's the link to their archive page. Center column about halfway down;
            http://www.drudgereportarchives.com/...713_220604.htm
            My post was about the reaction to the attack on this forum.
            “The time has come,” the Walrus said,
            “To talk of many things:
            Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
            Of cabbages—and kings—
            And why the sea is boiling hot—
            And whether pigs have wings.”
            ― Lewis Carroll

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Combat Engineer View Post
              My post was about the reaction to the attack on this forum.
              And if you get a chance to read the article you'll see that that such was not an isolated event. Also some other interesting information, some more excerpts;
              ...
              The U.S. power grid is like a giant puzzle that can be configured in different ways to deliver power where and when it is needed.

              Major power sources—gas-fired generators and nuclear-power plants, for example—connect to substations that raise voltages to ferry electricity long distance over a network of power lines. At cities and other destinations, substations lower the voltage to safely deliver electricity to homes and businesses. Substation computers help grid operators control those electrical flows.

              The grid was cobbled together during the electrification of the U.S. over the past 125 years. It is a fragile, interdependent system generally more vulnerable in summer when it is running closer to its limits. It is also at risk during low-demand periods, when power-plant operators and linemen perform maintenance. Fewer plants and transmission lines operating mean fewer options for delivering electricity during emergencies.

              ...
              There is so much variability in the grid that what causes a catastrophe one day might not the next, which makes security issues complex. Small problems can quickly spiral out of control.

              On Sept. 8, 2011, equipment problems and human error caused a large transmission line in Arizona to trip out of service. The grid is supposed to withstand the loss of any one line. On this day, electric current shifted to nearby lines and overloaded them; that overtaxed transformers at two small substations, which shut down defensively to prevent equipment damage, and disruptions spread.

              San Diego was blacked out 11 minutes later. Traffic snarled. Flights were canceled. Raw sewage flowed into the ocean. Altogether, 2.7 million utility customers lost power in California, Arizona and Mexico.
              ....
              Federal officials have long known about the vulnerability of electrical substations. A 1990 report from the federal Office of Technology Assessment warned that “virtually any region would suffer major, extended blackouts if more than three key substations were destroyed.”

              A 2012 report from the National Research Council of the National Academies of Sciences looked at different parts of the electric system and concluded that substations were “the most vulnerable to terrorist attack.”

              “We’ve known we had an issue for a long time and have been very slow to do anything about it,” said M. Granger Morgan, a professor of engineering at Carnegie Mellon University who studied the San Diego blackout.
              ....
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ end of excerpts

              This issue illustrates an overlooked vulnerability and that may need to be addressed. It integrates some with the EMP risk and there may be some solutions that would address both. BTW, the article mentions that some episodes may have been vandalism, theft, or attempts to access the computer control systems directing the grid.

              Comment


              • #8
                Yeah, but think how happy the doomsday preppers would be because they'd finally get to use all their cool gear and tell people "I told ya so".

                I remember back in July, 2003 when much of the Midwest and Northeast were hit by a huge blackout. All I thought was that if it had happened in the desert Southwest at the same time of the year, people would have been dropping like flies due to no a/c and so many old retirees.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                  Or, have one of these in your garage...

                  Along with a stockpile of stabilized fuel...

                  We had major issues getting fuel following Sandy, here in NJ.
                  ALL LIVES SPLATTER!

                  BLACK JEEPS MATTER!

                  BLACK MOTORCYCLES MATTER!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    We've had similar problems - nothing to do with terrorists though - just low life trying to steal copper cables. At least one guy fried himself. It's amazing how some people see conspiracies everywhere.
                    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Gixxer86g View Post
                      Along with a stockpile of stabilized fuel...

                      We had major issues getting fuel following Sandy, here in NJ.
                      Which will be consumed at an alarming rate along with the attention attracting noise.

                      More then substations are vulnerable to sabotage due to their locations, The towers themselves can be easily knocked down using simple common hand operated tools.
                      “Breaking News,”

                      “Something irrelevant in your life just happened and now we are going to blow it all out of proportion for days to keep you distracted from what's really going on.”

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        From a British electricity industry website

                        Substations

                        One consisent and persistent target for criminals is the copper earth tape used to provide Earthing & Lightning Protection to electricity substations.

                        AN Wallis, the UK leading manufacturer of Earthing & Lightning Protection systems and substation copper earth tapes are supportive of the TiM "micro-dot" technology. Following a recent presentation by TiM at AN Wallis's Nottingham HQ Mark Rimmington (AN Wallis, Sales Director) contributed the following vote of confidence.

                        “The problem relating to theft of high value metals has not gone away and despite efforts to put controls in place at scrap yards the criminals are still ahead of most authorities.

                        "Our experience at Wallis was simple, protect yourself because no one else will. We spent £30k on internal and external cameras which are monitored night and day 24/7. Since then 4 years ago our problems with theft are a thing of the past. However once copper or aluminium conductors are installed on a client’s property whether it be a football stadium, mobile phone antenna or substation either in remote areas or a city then they are on show and basically waiting to be stolen, there is little protection and no deterrent."

                        Smart water died a death but these microdots make more sense and could prove to be the answer for many owners / clients, DNO’s, Network Rail, O2 or otherwise. For our clients we are be happy to not only to name the copper tape for them as we do now but also attach / install the TiM microdots”
                        So stop seeing terrorists behind every tree. You have thieves too. It's a real problem though
                        Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                        Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Watch out for your railways as well
                          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/mosl...n-fortune.html
                          Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                          Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                            We've had similar problems - nothing to do with terrorists though - just low life trying to steal copper cables. At least one guy fried himself. It's amazing how some people see conspiracies everywhere.
                            Some people just like worrying and stressing out about things that they can't affect or change. It's not like real life doesn't already give you enough things to worry about. What do they want, an armed guard at every substation and tower?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by johns624 View Post
                              Some people just like worrying and stressing out about things that they can't affect or change. It's not like real life doesn't already give you enough things to worry about. What do they want, an armed guard at every substation and tower?

                              In a few years time we won't even have enough Electrical Engineers to maintain the ageing infrastructure anyway......

                              Comment

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