Posted by: Daisy Luther | on April 18, 2014
When the mainstream news warns of an event that is high on every prepper’s list of concerns, it might be time to double up on your efforts to be ready for it.
Again, the vulnerability of our power grid is in the news. This time, the threat is hackers. The LA Times published an article highlighting how alarmingly simple it was for a guy in North Carolina to breach the online security of American power stations.
Adam Crain assumed that tapping into the computer networks used by power companies to keep electricity zipping through transmission lines would be nearly impossible in these days of heightened vigilance over cybersecurity.
When he discovered how wrong he was, his work sent Homeland Security Department officials into a scramble.
Crain, the owner of a small tech firm in Raleigh, N.C., along with a research partner, found penetrating transmission systems used by dozens of utilities to be startlingly easy. After they shared their discovery with beleaguered utility security officials, the Homeland Security Department began sending alerts to power grid operators, advising them to upgrade their software.
The alerts haven’t stopped because Crain keeps finding new security holes he can exploit.
“There are a lot of people going through various stages of denial” about how easily terrorists could disrupt the power grid, he said. “If I could write a tool that does this, you can be sure a nation state or someone with more resources could.” (source)
A year ago this month, a power station in San Jose, California was attacked by snipers. This incident was hushed up by the mainstream media and only recently reported on. Alarmingly, Jon Wellinghoff, the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, referred to it as “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.” This was huge and we never even heard about it until months after the event. There are still no leads as to the perpetrators of the attack. (Read more HERE.) Clearly this just goes to highlight that the grid is vulnerable to physical attack as well as cyber attack.
Even more alarming, the LA Times article goes on to say that Lloyd’s of London has deep concerns about the delicacy of the situation. This is of particular relevance because Lloyds boasts of specialising “in unusual risks”. And by unusual, I mean things like the taste buds of a famous food critic, the mustache of an Australian cricket player, the first automotive policy ever written, and even a space satellite. When they are concerned about covering a power station, there are deep issues.
Lloyds’ appraisers have been making a lot of visits lately to power companies seeking protection against the risk of cyberattack. Their takeaway: Security at about half the companies they visit is too weak for Lloyds to offer a policy.
“When Lloyds won’t insure you, you know you’ve got a problem,” said Patrick Miller, founder of the Energy Sector Security Consortium, a Washington-based nonprofit that advocates tougher cybersecurity measures for the electricity industry. (source)
If you are new to preparedness, you may not realize the deeper implications of a long-term power failure. It goes far beyond the inconvenience of no lights and no television. In the event of a grid failure that is widespread and lasts for more than a week or two, these problems will occur for millions of Americans:
- Food will spoil quickly in warm weather because of lack of refrigeration.
- You won’t be able to get fuel for your car because most pumps are run by electricity.
- Some homes will no longer have running water and the toilets won’t flush because of electrical pump systems and water treatment facilities dependent on the grid – this will lead to serious sanitation issues.
- Some people depend on medication that must be refrigerated. On an even longer term basis, medications must be manufactured, and storefronts must be able to operate in order to dispense medications.
- Those with certain health issues require electrical assistance to survive: Devices like CPAP machines, respirators, some oxygen supplements, and some types of feeding tubes require electricity.
- And speaking of stores, if there is no power to run cash registers, in this world of electronic banking most stores will close, leaving patrons with no place to purchase needed items like food and water.
- Unless you have an off-grid heating system (like a woodstove, for example) you may find that without electricity to fuel your radiator or push heated air through a forced air system, you are completely without heat.
Homes today are rarely designed with the concept of life without the electrical grid. Renovations often take away the very things that could aid in a family’s survival if the power failed for the long term. For example, many people close off fireplaces or convert them to gas-fueled systems.
I wrote last year about how to prepare for an extended grid-down scenario, but the information bears repeating for those who are new to this lifestyle. You have far less to fear if you take control of the situation now. Ignore the whispers from Congress or the off-hand warnings from the mainstream media at your own peril.