The energy industry practices for a ‘black swan’ cyberattack that could take down the grid


Kate Fazzini

More than 6,500 government officials and big players in the energy sector came together this week to conduct a simulated cyberattack on the electrical grid.

The event is called GridEx, and takes place every two years. It imagines the U.S. under attack from a foreign country, through the power grid.

It’s a scenario that planners say is unlikely, a black swan event, but one that could have devastating impacts if it came to fruition. Those ripple effects could go far beyond leaving homes without heat or citizens without smartphones, bringing down big portions of the telecommunications, media and finance sectors. This is why, organizers said, they aimed to gather as many stakeholders as they could to run through how they would respond.

Based in reality

Gridex organizers based the potential attack scenario on real events and intelligence, said Karen Evans, a cybersecurity specialist at the Department of Energy, on Thursday. Countries like Russia, China and Iran have either attacked foreign grids or conducted reconnaissance on the U.S. grid, according to U.S. intelligence agencies.

In 2015 and 2017, intelligence experts have said Russia was responsibile for sporadic outages in Ukraine, particularly around the Christmas holiday season. China and Iran have proven they can gain a foothold on various parts of the U.S. grid. Last year, a saboteur of unknown origin was found to have been tampering with the safety systems of large industrial systems in the Middle East.

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Follow the link above to watch the video “How the US  power grid became a big target for hackers”

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