Power Grid Cyber Attacks Happening ‘Every Few Days’

The power grid has experienced cyber attacks either online or via in person, “every few days,” according to federal energy records. More than 50 utility companies have reported that the power grid is “vulnerable” to a “major outage.”

The power grid cyber attacks have not yet caused a major loss of electrical power in America, but the small hacks reportedly continue to occur several times each week. In 2013, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported that the federal agency was informed of 151 “cyber incidents,” the figure represented a 111 incident increase from the prior year.

Edison Electric Institute has reported that since 2013, the power grid cyber attacks have increased significantly and now “continuously” take place. The United States power grid has more blackouts than any other country in the developed world, according to new data that spotlights the country’s aging and unreliable electric system. The data by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) shows that Americans face more power grid failures lasting at least an hour than residents of other developed nations.

Going back three decades, the United States grid loses power 285 percent more often than it did in 1984, when record keeping began. The power outages cost businesses in the United States as much as $150 billion per year, according to the Department of Energy.

In early 2014, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the electrical grid a grade of D+ when it evaluated the system for security and other vulnerabilities. The D+ grade meant that the grid was in “poor to fair condition and mostly below standard, with many elements approaching the end of their service life.” The report also maintained that a “large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration” with a “strong risk of failure.”

An excerpt from the American Society of Civil Engineers report reads:

“America relies on an aging electrical grid and pipeline distribution systems, some of which originated in the 1880s. Investment in power transmission has increased since 2005, but ongoing permitting issues, weather events, and limited maintenance have contributed to an increasing number of failures and power interruptions. While demand for electricity has remained level, the availability of energy in the form of electricity, natural gas, and oil will become a greater challenge after 2020 as the population increases. Although about 17,000 miles of additional high-voltage transmission lines and significant oil and gas pipelines are planned over the next five years, permitting and siting issues threaten their completion. The electric grid in the United States consists of a system of interconnected power generation, transmission facilities, and distribution facilities.”

Terrorism attacks on the power grid concerns are reportedly mounting in both the United States and Europe. Fears that either terrorist groups or “hostile governments” are behind the repeated power grid cyber attack attempts are reportedly mounting. The possibility that an organized crime organization could be to blame has also been raised. Holding a major city essentially hostage until a ransom is paid to restore power may sound far-fetched, but such a belief is reportedly being considered as a part of our new modern technology reality.

What do you think about the power grid cyber attacks?

[Image via: Shutterstock.com]