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What would you do if the Internet or the power grid went down for over a year? Our key infrastructure, including the Internet and the power grid, is far more vulnerable than most people would dare to imagine. These days, most people simply take for granted that the lights will always be on and that the Internet will always function properly. But what if all that changed someday in the blink of an eye? According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest report, all it would take to plunge the entire nation into darkness for more than a year would be to knock out a transformer manufacturer and just 9 of our 55,000 electrical substations on a really hot summer day. The reality of the matter is that our power grid is in desperate need of updating, and there is very little or no physical security at most of these substations. If terrorists, or saboteurs, or special operations forces wanted to take down our power grid, it would not be very difficult. And as you will read about later in this article, the Internet is extremely vulnerable as well.
When I read the following statement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest report, I was absolutely floored…
“Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer.”
What would you do without power for 18 months?
FERC studied what it would take to collapse the entire electrical grid from coast to coast. What they found was quite unsettling…
In its modeling, FERC studied what would happen if various combinations of substations were crippled in the three electrical systems that serve the contiguous U.S. The agency concluded the systems could go darkif as few as nine locations were knocked out: four in the East, three in the West and two in Texas, people with knowledge of the analysis said.
The actual number of locations that would have to be knocked out to spawn a massive blackout would vary depending on available generation resources, energy demand, which is highest on hot days, and other factors, experts said. Because it is difficult to build new transmission routes, existing big substations are becoming more crucial to handling electricity.
So what would life look like without any power for a long period of time? The following list comes from one of my previous articles…
-There would be no heat for your home.
-Water would no longer be pumped into most homes.
-Your computer would not work.
-There would be no Internet.
-Your phones would not work.
-There would be no television.
-There would be no radio.
-ATM machines would be shut down.
-There would be no banking.
-Your debit cards and credit cards would not work.
-Without electricity, gas stations would not be functioning.
-Most people would be unable to do their jobs without electricity and employment would collapse.
-Commerce would be brought to a standstill.
-Hospitals would not be able to function.
-You would quickly start running out of medicine.
-All refrigeration would shut down and frozen foods in our homes and supermarkets would start to go bad.
If you want to get an idea of how quickly society would descend into chaos, just watch the documentary “American Blackout” some time. It will chill you to your bones.
The truth is that we live in an unprecedented time. We have become extremely dependent on technology, and that technology could be stripped away from us in an instant.
Right now, our power grid is exceedingly vulnerable, and all the experts know this, but very little is being done to actually protect it…
“The power grid, built over many decades in a benign environment, now faces a range of threats it was never designed to survive,” said Paul Stockton, a former assistant secretary of defense and president of risk-assessment firm Cloud Peak Analytics. “That’s got to be the focus going forward.”
If a group of agents working for a foreign government or a terrorist organization wanted to bring us to our knees, they could do it.
In fact, there have actually been recent attacks on some of our power stations. Here is just one example…
The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Smith reports that a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman is acknowledging for the first time that a group of snipers shot up a Silicon Valley substation for 19 minutes last year, knocking out 17 transformers before slipping away into the night.
The attack was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the U.S., Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, told Smith.
Have you heard about that attack before now?
Most Americans have not.
But it should have been big news.
At the scene, authorities found “more than 100 fingerprint-free shell casings“, and little piles of rocks “that appeared to have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots.”
So what happens someday when the bad guys decide to conduct a coordinated attack against our power grid with heavy weapons?
It could happen.
In addition, as I mentioned at the top of this article, the Internet is extremely vulnerable as well.
For example, did you know that authorities are so freaked out about the security of the Internet that they have given “the keys to the Internet” to a very small group of individuals that meet four times per year?
It’s true. The following is from a recent story posted by the Guardian…
The keyholders have been meeting four times a year, twice on the east coast of the US and twice here on the west, since 2010. Gaining access to their inner sanctum isn’t easy, but last month I was invited along to watch the ceremony and meet some of the keyholders – a select group of security experts from around the world. All have long backgrounds in internet security and work for various international institutions. They were chosen for their geographical spread as well as their experience – no one country is allowed to have too many keyholders. They travel to the ceremony at their own, or their employer’s, expense.
What these men and women control is the system at the heart of the web: the domain name system, or DNS. This is the internet’s version of a telephone directory – a series of registers linking web addresses to a series of numbers, called IP addresses. Without these addresses, you would need to know a long sequence of numbers for every site you wanted to visit. To get to the Guardian, for instance, you’d have to enter “126.96.36.199” instead of theguardian.com.
If the system that controls those IP addresses gets hijacked or damaged, we would definitely need someone to press the “reset button” on the Internet.
Sadly, the hackers always seem to be several steps ahead of the authorities. In fact, according to one recent report, breaches of U.S. government computer networks go undetected 40 percent of the time…
A new report by Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) detailswidespread cybersecurity breaches in the federal government, despite billions in spending to secure the nation’s most sensitive information.
The report, released on Tuesday, found thatapproximately 40 percent of breaches go undetected, and highlighted “serious vulnerabilities in the government’s efforts to protect its own civilian computers and networks.”
“In the past few years, we have seen significant breaches in cybersecurity which could affect critical U.S. infrastructure,” the report said. “Data on the nation’s weakest dams, including those which could kill Americans if they failed, were stolen by a malicious intruder. Nuclear plants’ confidential cybersecurity plans have been left unprotected. Blueprints for the technology undergirding the New York Stock Exchange were exposed to hackers.”
And things are not much better when it comes to cybersecurity in the private sector either. According to Symantec, there was a 42 percentincrease in cyberattacks against businesses in the United States last year. And according to a recent report in the Telegraph, our major banks are being hit with cyberattacks “every minute of every day”…
Every minute, of every hour, of every day, a major financial institution is under attack.
Threats range from teenagers in their bedrooms engaging in adolescent “hacktivism”, to sophisticated criminal gangs and state-sponsored terrorists attempting everything from extortion to industrial espionage. Though the details of these crimes remain scant, cyber security experts are clear that behind-the-scenes online attacks have already had far reaching consequences for banks and the financial markets.
For much more on all of this, please see my previous article entitled “Big Banks Are Being Hit With Cyberattacks ‘Every Minute Of Every Day’“.
Up until now, attacks on our infrastructure have not caused any significant interruptions in our lifestyles.
But at some point that will change.
Are you prepared for that to happen?
We live at a time when our world is becoming increasingly unstable. In the years ahead it is quite likely that we will see massive economic problems, major natural disasters, serious terror attacks and war. Any one of those could cause substantial disruptions in the way that we live.
At this point, even NASA is warning that “civilization could collapse”…
A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”
So let us hope for the best.
But let us also prepare for the worst.
February 19th, 2014
(Image Courtesy NavySeals.com)
The threat of a breakdown of our national power infrastructure has been a growing concern for the last decade. With the invention of “Super EMP” electro-magnetic pulse weapons, the possibility of Carrington-class solar flares, and the potential for cyber attackers to remotely compromise our interconnected computer systems, there may come a time in our country’s future when our entire way of life is threatened because we no longer have access to the one thing that keeps it all moving – electricity. Outgoing Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano recently suggested that such a widespread outage is imminent and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke who is a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee concluded that the chance of a serious geo-magnetic event crippling our power grid is 100%.
The threat is real.
And as recently as last year Americans got a taste of what such an attack may look like. Though not reported at the time out of national security concerns, it was recently revealed that an entire domestic power grid sub-station came under attack in what seems to be a professionally executed assault. The attackers first cut phone lines from the sub-station and they then proceeded to fire 100 rounds from long-range at critical components such as the generators that keep the station cooling systems operational. This resulted in millions of dollars worth of damage and a reported electrical outage that spanned nearly a month.
According to officials this was a sophisticated attack likely involving the coordination of multiple individuals. And they’re not the only ones who think so.
(Closed Circuit cameras capture San Josa, CA power grid sniper attack)
US Navy Seals have said it is a carbon copy of how they would carry out such an operation.
According to Sky News the FBI doesn’t believe this was an act of terrorism – thoughstamping your own gold coins, questioning mainstream ideologies, or purchasing food in bulk do qualify as suspected terrorist operations:
The FBI says it does not believe the attack was terrorism. No one has been arrested.
There are differing opinions at government agencies about what happened. Head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Jon Wellinghoff called it “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.”
Investigators don’t know for sure who did it or why, but it’s clear that our power grid has not been secured, despite billions of dollars being spent on the security of the homeland over the last decade.
If a few individuals with an AK-47 are capable of bringing down a sub-station and 17 massive transformers that provide power to hundreds of thousands of people, consider what would happen if a rogue terrorist organization or foreign-sponsored military teams were to target 100 key power stations that provide the electricity for tens of millions of people.
Next time they might not be bringing an AK-47. They could target sub-station components with easily obtained explosive through U.S. black markets and take down scores of transformers that switch electricity across the grid. Should those transformers be destroyed (and not just damaged as they were in this recent attack), then it could take months or years to restore conditions to 100%.
Most transformer components are manufactured overseas and production time in opportune conditions is about 18 months. If hundreds of these transformers were all of a sudden destroyed there is simply no way to bring everything back online in any reasonable amount of time.
As the threat of a power grid outage becomes ever more real, we strongly urge readers to develop a personal preparedness plan that includes long-term food supplies, water, and self defense strategies.
Preparing one second after such an event will be too late.
Hattip Underground Medic
As Worries Over the Power Grid Rise, a Drill Will Simulate a Knockout Blow
New York City during a blackout in 2003. More than 150 companies and groups will take part in a drill that will simulate attacks on the power grid.
Published: August 16, 2013
WASHINGTON — The electric grid, as government and private experts describe it, is the glass jaw of American industry. If an adversary lands a knockout blow, they fear, it could black out vast areas of the continent for weeks; interrupt supplies of water, gasoline, diesel fuel and fresh food; shut down communications; and create disruptions of a scale that was only hinted at by Hurricane Sandy and the attacks of Sept. 11.
This is why thousands of utility workers, business executives, National Guard officers, F.B.I. antiterrorism experts and officials from government agencies in the United States, Canada and Mexico are preparing for an emergency drill in November that will simulate physical attacks and cyberattacks that could take down large sections of the power grid.
They will practice for a crisis unlike anything the real grid has ever seen, and more than 150 companies and organizations have signed up to participate.
“This is different from a hurricane that hits X, Y and Z counties in the Southeast and they have a loss of power for three or four days,” said the official in charge of the drill, Brian M. Harrell of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, known as NERC. “We really want to go beyond that.”
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.
“If we fail at electricity, we’re going to fail miserably,” Curt Hébert, a former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said at a recent conference held by the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Mr. Harrell said that previous exercises were based on the expectation that electricity “would be up and running relatively quick” after an attack.
Now, he said, the goal is to “educate the federal government on what their expectations should or shouldn’t be.” The industry held a smaller exercise two years ago in which 75 utilities, companies and agencies participated, but this one will be vastly expanded and will be carried out in a more anxious mood.
Most of the participants will join the exercise from their workplaces, with NERC, in Washington, announcing successive failures. One example, organizers say, is a substation break-in that officials initially think is an attempt to steal copper. But instead, the intruder uses a USB drive to upload a virus into a computer network.
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. Ninety-nine percent of military facilities rely on commercial power, according to the White House.
The utilities play down their abilities, in comparison with the government’s. “They have the intelligence operation, the standing army, the three-letter agencies,” said Scott Aaronson, senior director of national security policy at the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association of investor-owned utilities. “We have the grid operations expertise.”
That expertise involves running 5,800 major power plants and 450,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, monitored and controlled by a staggering mix of devices installed over decades. Some utilities use their own antique computer protocols and are probably safe from hacking — what the industry calls “security through obscurity.”
But others rely on Windows-based control systems that are common to many industries. Some of them run on in-house networks, but computer security experts say they are not confident that all the connections to the public Internet have been discovered and secured. Many may be vulnerable to software — known as malware — that can disable the systems or destroy their ability to communicate, leaving their human operators blind about the positions of switches, the flows of current and other critical parameters. Experts say a sophisticated hacker could also damage hard-to-replace equipment.
In an effort to draw utilities and the government closer, the industry recently established the Electricity Sub-Sector Coordinating Council, made up of high-level executives, to meet with federal officials. The first session is next month.
Preparation for the November drill comes as Congress is debating laws that could impose new standards to protect the grid from cyberattacks, but many in the industry, some of whom would like such rules, doubt that they can pass.
The drill is also being planned as conferences, studies and even works of fiction are raising near-apocalyptic visions of catastrophes involving the grid
A National Academy of Sciences report last year said that terrorists could cause broad hardship for months with physical attacks on hard-to-replace components. An emerging effort led in part by R. James Woolsey, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is gearing up to pressure state legislatures to force utilities to protect equipment against an electromagnetic pulse, which could come from solar activity or be caused by small nuclear weapons exploded at low altitude, frying crucial components
An attack using an electromagnetic pulse is laid out in extensive detail in the novel “One Second After,” published in 2009 and endorsed by Newt Gingrich. In another novel,“Gridlock,” published this summer and co-written by Byron L. Dorgan, the former senator from North Dakota, a rogue Russian agent working for Venezuela and Iran helps hackers threaten the grid. In the preface, Mr. Dorgan says such an attack could cause 10,000 times as much devastation as the terrorists’ strikes on Sept. 11, 2001.
Despite the growing anxiety, the government and the private sector have had trouble coordinating their grid protection efforts. The utility industry argues that the government has extensive information on threats but keeps it classified. Government officials concede the problem, and they have suggested that some utility executives get security clearances. But with hundreds of utilities and thousands of executives, it cannot issue such clearances fast enough. And the industry would like to be instantly warned when the government identifies Internet servers that are known to be sources of malware.
Another problem is that the electric system is so tightly integrated that a collapse in one spot, whether by error or intent, can set off a cascade, as happened in August 2003, when a power failure took a few moments to spread from Detroit to New York.
Sometimes utility engineers and law enforcement officials also seem to speak different languages. In his book “Protecting Industrial Control Systems From Electronic Threats,” Joseph Weiss, an engineer and cybersecurity expert, recounted a meeting between electrical engineers and the F.B.I. in 2008. When an F.B.I. official spoke at length about I.E.D.’s, he was referring to improvised explosive devices, but to the engineers the abbreviation meant intelligent electronic devices.
And experts fear government-sponsored hacking. Michael V. Hayden, another former C.I.A. director, speaking at the Bipartisan Policy Center conference, said that the Stuxnet virus, which disabled some of Iran’s centrifuges for enriching uranium, might invite retaliation.
“In a time of peace, someone just used a cyberweapon to destroy another nation’s critical infrastructure,” he said. “Ouch.”
IRS Advises of Power Outage Ahead of Grid Ex Electricity Drill: “This service will be unavailable”
The Daily Sheeple
November 9th, 2013
(The Daily Sheeple) Next week on November 13th and 14th the Department of Homeland Security will be engaging in a widespread power outage drill involving scores of international government agencies and business in an effort to test the viability of a national response plan in the event of a cyber attack, electro-magnetic pulse attack or solar flare.
The Grid Ex II drill has left many concerned that it may coincide with an actual “false flag” attack, much like similar drills that were taking place on September 11th, as well as in Boston during the recent bombing.
Speculation abounds about the coming power grid drills, and a recent alert issued by the IRS.gov web site isn’t helping quell fears.
The following message has appeared on at least 50 pages of the IRS.gov web site within the last 48 hours, though the alert is not being displayed on most areas of the site:
Planned Outage: November 9 — November 12, 2013This service will be unavailable beginning approximately 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, November 9, 2013 until approximately 7:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday, November 12, 2013, due to a power outage. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Message forums on the internet suggest that many believe this may have something to do with the Grid Ex II drills, though no information from the IRS has been forthcoming.
PREPARE FOR THE GRIDEX II NOVEMBER POWER GRID “DRILL”
This drill is scheduled to begin November 13, 2013. What is not being discussed is how much of the nation will lose power or, since it is a three-nation drill (United States and parts of Canada and Mexico), the entire U.S. will go “offline” so to speak. What we are told is that all food and water transport will stop, business and banking will stop, transportation and shopping will stop, communications will stop, and there will be no heat in homes, schools or places of business. We are also told this will only be a “simulation”. As such, it is best to be prepared one way or another, just in case.
Therefore, everyone will have to decide whether to go to work, whether to send their kids to school or have them possibly locked down, and they will have to decide whether they will have non-perishable foods and water on hand, alternative lighting and heating, medical supplies, etc., for what will likely be ordered sheltering in place.
Therefore, a few suggestions come to mind:
Have at least two weeks food and water stored for all family members and pets, preferably one month’s storage.
Have warm clothing, warm blankets and sleeping bags, gloves and hats.
Have extra medical supplies and prescription drugs if you know you will run out during mid-November. Have a quality First Aid kit, stocked.
Have extra firewood and a place to possibly cook outdoors. You might want to include a good tent and/or large tarps, ropes, bungee cords, and a good ax and wood saw.
Do NOT throw away yard sticks, burnable trash, cardboard, etc. Store them in boxes in the garage or a utility shed. If you do not have either, ask a neighbor if you can temporarily store them in their garage or shed. Buy wood matches and keep them in zip lock bags or plastic containers with lids.
You will have to decide whether you are going to send your children school. If so, pack food, water, and dress them very warmly and prepare them in advance that you may have no ability to contact them and that they may have to stay at school for several days.
Fill you cars with gasoline prior to November 10th, and try to store extra gasoline in a safe place.
If you can afford to do so, buy a Big Buddy propane heater, three or four 20 pound propane tanks (filled), and an adapter hose for the 20 pound tanks.
Have paper plates, paper and foam cups, plastic utensils, a good can opener or two, a good all-purpose tool, and keep all store bags.
Have plenty of toilet paper, sanitary supplies for girls and women, hand soaps, paper and hand towels, and have plenty of small plastic or grocery store bags.
Have several quality flashlights, A LOT of batteries. Several old-fashioned oil lamps with wicks and clear glass chimneys and a gallon or two of lamp oil will provide good light and quite a bit of additional heat.
If you have babies have stored formula, cleaned bottles, diapers, wipes, ointments, and plenty of warm baby blankets, hats, mits, booties, temperature-lowering medicines and electrolyte juices.
If you have senior parents or grandparents, get them prepared with all necessities.
Know how to shut off your natural gas.
Get laundry done prior to the drill.
Be aware that we have no real idea if this drill will include armies in our streets, forced relocations; business and/or school lock downs, or if this will be a drill that becomes a live “event” as occurred in Boston. Mostly, be prepared for many people to be unprepared and panicked should this drill play out in actuality. Be prepared to protect your home, families and supplies, and always keep working toward a six month supply of stored goods including garden seeds. In today’s world and beneath today’s national and international political threats and policing systems, you just never know. Stock up.
- Be Prepared To Hunker Down For Months:THE FED GOV has been stockpiling food, water treatment supplies, firearms, ammunition, and training personnel to deal with the aftermath of TOTAL GRID FAILURE! (intelwars2.wordpress.com)
- U.S. Electrical Grid on the Edge of Failure (scientificamerican.com)
- IMAGINING A CYBERATTACK ON THE POWER GRID. “More than 200 utilities and government agencies across … (pjmedia.com)