09/19/2019

Cyber-Sabotage, Wildfires, Weather — A Web Of Threats To The Power Supply Could Leave Californians In The Dark

Russians hack Ukraine’s electricity network, turning lights off and on at will, rendering the country’s best tech hands helpless to intervene. North Korea takes over the controls of a South Korean nuclear power plant. Snipers with high-velocity rifles unleash a fusillade on a transmission station near San Jose, inflicting $15 million in damage.

It’s not the plot of the latest spy novel. Rather, it’s small sampling of actual attacks, the kind of sabotage against vulnerable energy systems that can cut off power with the click of a mouse and bring officials to their knees.

Experts say energy grids are the new front in cyber-terrorism. Although the wildfires that periodically dominate the news are a serious threat to California’s power supply, cyber-invaders are an around-the clock danger, trying to penetrate grid security every minute of every day. An all-hands-on-deck battle is being waged against them, and the network that serves nearly 40 million people’s homes, industries and public-safety agencies depends on a successful defense.

Should the grid be hijacked, the entire state could be held hostage, experts say. Can the state prevent what one utility executive likened to “a hostile takeover?”

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