PBS Frontline has a new special out on cyberwars. It highlights the insecurity of the U.S.’s public infrastructure and describes a technology known as
SCADA. Supervisor Controlled Data Acquisition Systems. These devices, most of which are connected to the internet, allowing the user to make physical
switches from a remote location. As the videos show, no one actually flips switches at the power plant anymore. All distribution adjustments are made
remotely through SCADA devices, including nuclear facilities.
Chapter 4 on the grid is most interesting.
Here’s some excerpts from the interviews:
Michael Skrooch manages the Information Operations Red Team and Assessments (IORTA) group at Sandia National Laboratories.
Could your team, if you wanted to, take down the entire grid in the United States?
The IDART red team could demonstrate numerous vulnerabilities and system effects against U.S. critical infrastructure that are scenario-dependent and
adversary-dependent. We do this so that we can help improve the systems so that they can't be taken down in the future, and a cyber Pearl Harbor
won't affect the U.S. infrastructures.
But could you if you wanted to?
I won't answer that question. ...
Joseph Weiss, a control systems engineer with KEMA Consulting and a leading expert in control system security.
So just put it in all perspective. What's the worst-case power scenario, power we're talking here -- power lines, power grid?
Absolute worst? I won't even say absolute, but a very worst case could be loss of power for six months or more.
Over how big an area?
Big as you want.
Is that a possibility?
I'd just as soon not go into it.
But you believe, as an expert, a man who understands these systems, that indeed that is a possibility?
Why isn't Washington quaking in its shoes?
I can't tell you. I don't know. I don't know.
Couple this with latest MS bug and wow, the internet is still the wild, wild west.