Looking for Discussion/Rebuttal of Ted Koppel’s Cyber Attacks Thesis

The Diva is looking for some information and citations, if possible.

A friend of mine, not in the emergency management field, has been pressing me for specifics and reassurance that the arguments Ted Koppel has been making re cyber attacks taking down the electric grid in the east for 2 months to 2 years are not as drastic as he states.

I have been trying to assure her that the emergency management community in this country has plans and the situation would not be a dire as Koppel indicates.  I have tried to find some articles that include rebuttals by the electric industry or others, but I cannot locate any.  As a media figure, Koppel has received a huge amount of publicity. Where are the counter arguments and pushback?

Update:  Here is one article I found that tries to give some balance to the arguments.
In the dark over power grid securityIt appears that key federal agencies are not willing to talk to the media about the topic.

Fellow blogger Eric Holdeman think Koppel got the facts right about the threat and the risks.  See his blog on the topic here. Eric is a former county emergency manager.

5 thoughts on “Looking for Discussion/Rebuttal of Ted Koppel’s Cyber Attacks Thesis

  1. I’m not all the way through his book, but I can tell you that the folks I know in the cyber business with knowledge of the electrical grid are not all comfy cozy with the status of our preparations for being without power and the holes that exist in our system of systems. Interdependencies are typically not revealed until there is “an issue.” When people say, can’t, won’t, never, I’m always leery of such pronouncements. There is too much inter-connectedness in our society to discount the ability to influence the grid via a cyberattack.

  2. I have ordered the Koppel book and hesitate to provide detailed comments until I have read it. In the meantime this will have to suffice.

    The vulnerability of the energy grid has become a topic of discussion ever since the NYC Blackouts of 1966 and 1977. If memory serves both were determined to be the fault of Consolidated Edison Corporation. But blackouts from time to time have continued to occur many from after effects of storms. A large scale outage occurred in 2005 in the Northeast. But I believe the 3 week outage in winter in Buffalo NY from an ice storm was the most representative of the potential.

    Six grids provide the major power transmission systems in the USA. While not directly linked there are some links and avoiding simultaneous problems possible. There is no stored backlog of the transformers anywhere and often transformer stations still open to view and thus attack at various places. The SCADA [controls] are very susceptible to hacking in various ways IMO.

    The electric power business is now divided between transmission and/or generation of power. There are separate vulnerabilities.

    There has been almost no change in the regulatory predicates with respect to promoting RESILIENCE and preventing outages.

    A huge effort has been made on a continuous basis to promote tree-trimming to lessen the risk from fallen trees or their limbs. Some burial of lines has occurred but it is extremely limited.

    The electric business now actively promotes openly the use of standby generators which it opposed openly before 1985.

    Again IMO [In my opinion] NO NEW HOUSE outside any SMSA should be sold without a standby generator and just as with lead-based paint and radon inspections this could easily be accomplished.

    I look forward to reading the book.

  3. Claire,
    As one who served as manager, emergency planning for a Fortune 500 Electric and Gas utility, I can assure your friend that the power grid is NOT connected across the U.S. It is a series of privately owned grids with no single way to take them all down. I’d be happy to discuss this further.

    • If you have some specific comments or citations, I would be glad to share them. See article I just cited in my update to the posting. It does not help that federal officials refuse to give interviews!

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