U.S. Grid Is Easy Terrorist Target | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 47 | p. 30 | Concentrates
Issue Date: November 19, 2012

U.S. Grid Is Easy Terrorist Target

Department: Government & Policy
Keywords: electricity grid, DHS, terrorists

Spread across the nation with key facilities often unguarded, the U.S. electric power grid is inherently vulnerable to terrorist attacks, according to a National Research Council report released last week. Important pieces of equipment are decades old and lack improved sensing and control technologies that could limit outages and outage consequences resulting from either a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. Such an attack or disaster would have immense economic impacts, the report notes. NRC recommends greater investments in power systems research to make the systems less vulnerable to attack, restore power faster after an attack or failure, and make critical social services less susceptible even if the delivery of conventional power is disrupted. It also urges the hardening of critical systems—communications, sensors, and controls—that are potentially vulnerable to cyber attacks through Internet connections or by direct penetration at remote sites. This report was completed in 2007, but the Department of Homeland Security, the sponsoring agency, classified the report, thus blocking its release until NRC officials recently requested a security classification review.

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