Cyber-attacks to power utility

Cyberattacks targeting a local power utility or end-user systems could propagate to the national bulk-power system and affect millions of people. We know that terrorists and state-sponsored actors already have the capabilities to disrupt a country’s power supply. The human costs of power-supply disruptions can go far beyond inconvenience.

On 1 May, Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at securing the U.S. bulk-power system. The order highlights the U.S. power system’s extreme vulnerability to attacks by hackers, terrorists, state actors, and other malefactors.

As a means of protecting the U.S. bulk-power system, the new executive order bans the purchase of equipment manufactured outside of the United States. The bulk-power system, defined in the order as 69 kilovolts and above, already enjoys tight federal regulation, close oversight, and continuous monitoring.

Local power-distribution systems, much of whose energy delivery is below 69 kilovolts, are another story. Because these distribution networks are regulated locally by states and municipalities, and not by the federal government, they fly under the radar of the new executive order. But they are still just as vulnerable to attack.

Information source and more information:

Executive Order Shines a Light on Cyberattack Threat to the Power Grid



  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Um, it doesn’t/didn’t take willfully bad actors to do it before …

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:


    I don’t think paralysis [of the electrical grid] is more likely by cyberattack than by natural disaster. And frankly the number-one threat experienced to date by the US electrical grid is squirrels.” – John C. Inglis, Former Deputy Director, National Security Agency 2015.07.09

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Is this is just another facet of Trump’s America First policy and not really to protect the grid?

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hillicon Valley: Feds warn hackers targeting critical infrastructure | Twitter exploring subscription service | Bill would give DHS cyber agency subpoena power

    THREATS AGAINST CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE: Federal authorities on Thursday warned that foreign hackers are attempting to target U.S. critical infrastructure.

    The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) specifically warned that internet-connected operational technology (OT) assets – which are used throughout U.S. defense systems – were often the targets of malicious cyber actors attempting to hit critical infrastructure, such as systems providing water, gas and electricity.

    As a result, the agencies recommended that critical infrastructure operators and owners take “immediate action” to secure their systems.

    “Due to the increase in adversary capabilities and activity, the criticality to U.S. national security and way of life, and the vulnerability of OT systems, civilian infrastructure makes attractive targets for foreign powers attempting to do harm to US interests or retaliate for perceived US aggression,” the agencies wrote in a joint alert.

    The security agencies noted that OT assets are used in Department of Defense systems and throughout the defense industrial base sector, including in national security systems.

    The NSA and CISA wrote they had seen evidence of email spear phishing attacks to gain access to critical infrastructure networks to access OT assets, along with attempted ransomware attacks on these systems.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Internet works because providers have real-time information on congestion and traffic. What if utilities had the same information about the power grid?

    Power Grids Should Be as Data Driven as the Internet

    Governments are setting ambitious renewable energy goals in response to climate change. The problem is, the availability of renewable sources doesn’t align with the times when our energy demands are the highest. We need more electricity for lights when the sun has set and solar is no longer available, for example. But if utilities could receive information about energy usage in real time, as Internet service providers already do with data usage, it would change the relationship we have with the production and consumption of our energy.

    Utilities must still meet energy demands regardless of whether renewable sources are available, and they still have to mull whether to construct expensive new power plants to meet expected spikes in demand. But real-time information would make it easier to use more renewable energy sources when they’re available.


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