Hackers Take Down Ukraine Power Grid

While our nation fears the possibility of a cyber-attack that would take down our power grid, Ukraine lived through one in late December. The power blackout affected about 1.4 million Ukrainians and was tied to the espionage Trojan known as BlackEnergy. It is suspected that malware was used to cause the power disruption. The Trojan has been tied to Russian attackers resulting in Ukraine’s state security service to blame Russia for the attack.

While it is different from the Ukrainian power grid attack, many of us may remember the Northeast Blackout of 2003 affecting both Canada and the U.S.A. For many, the blackout lasted an entire two days. Photos of a dark Times Square render the idea quite vividly. With history repeating itself, it’s naive to think we will never go dark again especially considering the technological advances we have made in the past thirteen years. When we do go dark though, what will it be like? How many other states and countries could it affect and how equipped are we to combat something like that?

In an article by writer Kristen Weir, she mentions that “the entire U.S. grid is interconnected, the right combination of attacks — or even a single strike — could shut down power across many states…Any damaged equipment could take weeks or months to replace. The lights could be out for a long time”. It’s difficult to imagine months without power but the reality is that it’s an ever-growing possibility. Technology advances can also allow for vulnerabilities in our systems which makes resilience in our system that much more important!

Have any of your ever thought about these possibilities and if so, have you ever thought about your plan of action?