In a report issued by the Department of Energy, the agency said, the infrastructure used to deliver electricity to U.S. homes, hospitals and businesses is in ”imminent danger” of cyber-attacks. The dangers are outlined in a massive new report the media has chosen to keep secret.
Despite the advancements and improvements made in recent years, energy grid technology still allows for major exploitation of the system by cyber-terrorists. The more dynamic, reliable and efficient we make the system to provide energy, the more we expose it to dangers from the outside. The improvements have simultaneously resulted in greater integration of existing networks, the Energy Department noted in broad terms. Because of this integration, security needs to improve, the agency said in its Quadrennial Energy Review.
The report reads: “As transmission and distribution system design and operations become more data intensive, complex and interconnected, the demand for visibility across the continuum of electricity delivery has expanded,” the 494-page report says. “The current cyber-security landscape is characterized by rapidly evolving threats and vulnerabilities, juxtaposed against the slower-moving deployment of defense measures.”
A power outage caused by a successful future cyber-attack could undermine “critical defense infrastructure,” damage the economy and place at risk the safety of U.S. citizens, according to the Energy Department. If such a long term failure were to occur, government officials say that we could lose up to half our population in the first 30 days. But if it was a prolonged outage of a year or more 9 out of 10 Americans would perish from sickness and related causes.
Weather-related power outages already cost the U.S. economy roughly $20 billion to $50 billion annually. The new report comes amid increased concerns over cyber-attacks aimed at both U.S. critical infrastructure and political organizations. The Energy Department states that the federal government has a role to play in energy grid cyber security through the advancement of “interoperability standards.”
“Typical cyber-security events impacting the grid have been mainly limited to gaining access to networks through phishing emails or infecting flash drives with the hope that they will be connected to a network. Russian hacking of utility systems such as what we saw last year in the Ukraine, underscores that such events should not be viewed simply as information theft,” the report says.
The Quadrennial Energy Review represents the second report published during the course of an administration-wide review of the nation’s energy policies. The first report was released in 2015 and it similarly focused on energy infrastructure improvements and resilience recommendations.