Thursday, November 15, 2018

DARPA wargames a cyber attack on the electric grid....

The Northeast blackout of 2003 was a widespread power outage throughout parts of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States and the Canadian province of Ontario on August 14, 2003, just after 4:10 p.m. EDT.[1]

Some power was restored by 11 p.m. Most did not get their power back until two days later. In other areas, it took nearly a week or two for power to be restored.[2] At the time, it was the world's second most widespread blackout in history, after the 1999 Southern Brazil blackout.[3][4] The outage, which was much more widespread than the Northeast Blackout of 1965, affected an estimated 10 million people in Ontario and 45 million people in eight U.S. states.

The blackout's primary cause was a software bug in the alarm system at the control room of FirstEnergy Corporation, an Akron, Ohio–based company, causing operators to remain unaware of the need to re-distribute load after overloaded transmission lines drooped into foliage. What should have been a manageable local blackout cascaded into collapse of the entire electric grid.

The situation currently...
Many "preppers" consider a cyber attack on the power grid to be a major danger and something they prepare to face.  Unfortunately the majority of Americans don't view it as a possibility.  If memory serves it is stated that a power outage lasting 15 days in the Northeast corridor or on the West coast could cost the lives of thousands of people and COULD lead to outbreaks of unbelievable violence/crime.
The actual war game.  Via
The team of grid operators had spent days restoring power when a digital strike took out one of two operational utility stations. The other utility was also under attack.

A month had passed since all power in the region was taken down by a devastating cyberattack. It had been a grueling six days restoring power across two electrical utilities and to the building deemed a critical national asset by the Secretary of Energy.

The cyber strike hadn’t forced the team back to zero, but it wasn’t far from it.

Just moments ago, the two electric utilities had been working in concert, delivering reliable and redundant power to the critical asset. Now one utility was down for the count and the other was under attack.

The grid operators’ only chance to restore power to the asset would be to route it, substation by substation, from the utility that was still operating. The team of cybersecurity researchers assisting the grid operators would have to use every piece of technology and know-how they had to ensure that utility stayed powered up, trustworthy and malware-free.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency exercise, which took place from Nov. 1 to Nov. 7, was fictional, but it was designed to mimic all the hurdles and uncertainty of a real-world cyberattack that took out power across the nation for weeks on end–a scenario known as a “black start.”

To add realism, the exercise took place on Plum Island, a federal research facility off the north fork of Long Island, where DARPA researchers were able to segregate a portion of the island on its own electric grid.

Over the course of the seven-day exercise, more than 100 people gathered on the island, filling every necessary role to mimic an actual black start.

At the center of the exercise was a team of grid operators from electric utilities across the nation, which was in charge of restoring and sustaining power.
Story here. 

On a certain level I find this amusing.

I don't know why but the lack of "what if" and "we might need to be ready if x, y, and z happen" is so lacking in today's America that it's stunning.

On top of that the misplaced priorities are amazing.

There is so much real work to do.  Stuff like rebuilding our infrastructure from roads, highways, power plants, electric grid, airports, railroads, bridges...the list goes on.  The reality?  Everyone is caught up in the "feel good" instead of focusing on real stuff.

I don't get it.  Probably never will.

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