Letter Re: The Fragility of the US Power Grid

An article posted on 10/16 on Internet Evolution has some sobering thoughts on the state of network security of the US power grid. It is written by Ira Winkler, a former NSA analyst and current security expert. His prognosis: “the power grid remains incredibly vulnerable.”

Keep up the good work, – MP

JWR Replies: In my writings, I often refer to the national power grids (there are actually three, eastern and western, and Texas) as the lynchpins of our modern societal infrastructure. Any interruption for more than a few weeks could precipitate a societal collapse. There is just so much of what we depend on for our modern way of life that is dependent on grid power. The telephone networks have backup generators, but those only have a limited fuel supply. Even the supply of piped natural gas is dependent on grid power, since it is used to power the compressor stations that pressurize the natural gas pipelines. I am of the firm opinion that existing Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition.(SCADA) software implementations represent a great vulnerability. The new generation Web-enabled SCADA systems only compounds the problem. (Now, terrorists don’t even need to go on-site to inject a computer virus and foul up the power and water utilities’ switching and valve hardware. They can now do it remotely.)