With the recent bombshell report that the Department of Energy (DOE) has been successfully hacked 159 times from 2010 to 2014, it is clear that a total grid down scenario is not a matter of "if it happens" but of "when it happens."
GRID DOWN SCENARIO - AN "ABSOLUTELY REAL" THREAT
Hackers have shown they are more than capable of bypassing America's protections... or to phrase it differently.... that the U.S. is incapable of adequately protecting the very system that allows Americans to communicate, have running water, food, access the Internet, etc.....
NPR reports "The leaders of the U.S. intelligence community convened on Capitol Hill Thursday to discuss worldwide cyber security threats. They said the problem is only getting worse."
As you will hear in the clip below, at that Congressional briefing, Congressman Devin Nunes stated "Just this morning, we learned the Department of Energey was successfully hacked 159 times."
USA Today quotes Scott White, Professor of Homeland Security and Security Management and Director of the Computing Security and Technology program at Drexel University who states "The potential for an adversary to disrupt, shut down (power systems), or worse … is real here. It's absolutely real."
The records, obtained by USA TODAY through the Freedom of Information Act, show DOE components reported a total of 1,131 cyberattacks over a 48-month period ending in October 2014. Of those attempted cyber intrusions, 159 were successful.
Records show 53 of the 159 successful intrusions from October 2010 to October 2014 were "root compromises," meaning perpetrators gained administrative privileges to Energy Department computer systems.
Manimaran Govindarasu, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University who studies cybersecurity issues involving the power grid, said the root compromises represent instances where intruders gained "super-user" privileges.
Just as concerning and deadly is the knowledge that "The National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-autonomous agency within the Energy Department responsible for managing and securing the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile, experienced 19 successful attacks during the four-year period, records show."
EXPERTS BELIEVE DEATH TOLL WILL RANGE BETWEEN 50 AND 90 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION IN A GRID DOWN SCENARIO
How vulnerable are they? In 2014 the website Government Technology used the "Metcalf" incident as an example, stating the following:
According to American Thinker magazine, “The attackers apparently first slipped into an underground vault and expertly severed six AT&T fiber-optic telecommunication lines in a way that would make repair difficult. ... Then, a half hour later, the snipers began firing at the power station, destroying 17 giant transformers and six circuit breakers.”
What was the result of the attack? The Metcalf power station was down for 27 days and had damages estimated at $15.4 million. Fortunately the power supply to Silicon Valley was not disrupted because other power sources were used to make up for the loss.
As Peggy Noonan pointed out in her Wall Street Journal article: “Jon Wellinghoff, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said the attack ‘was the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.’ If the attack were replicated around the country, it could take down the entire electrical grid.”
As seen from the website SecuretheGrid, there are a number of ways America's power grid can be taken out, "America’s electric grid, data centers, telecommunications networks, and other critical infrastructure can be damaged or destroyed in several different ways: a nuclear weapon that generates an EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) effect; a geo-magnetic storm from the sun that also can generate an EMP effect; a smaller, localized EMP that can be created with everyday equipment from Radio Shack; cyber warfare; and direct physical attacks."
It would be pretty bad. The destructive force of an EMP could knock out the grid for a year, maybe even longer. That’s because the parts needed to fix the transmission lines and transformers destroyed are bespoke, with many only made in two places, South Korea and Germany. The EMP Commission, which was set up after 9/11, estimated that within 12 months of an EMP event, two-thirds of the US population would likely perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown. Other experts estimate the likely loss to be closer to 90 percent.
The follow up question was "Really? That bad?"
His response to that was chilling:
Oh, sure. William Forstchen’s novel, One Second After, gives a chilling portrayal of what life may look like after an EMP detonation. It describes a population totally unsuited for living in the dark. Deaths come in waves; first the elderly and then those who depend on medication. Following that are those who die of simple diseases, like typhoid or dysentery, as well as those who have no survival or farming skills, though even subsistence farming would likely be a challenge given the speed in which society would collapse versus the time it takes to actually prepare fields and grow substantial amounts of food.
No matter the reason for a grid down scenario, the result will be the same.... massive loss of life, rioting, looting and a complete breakdown of law and order. Civilization as we know it will be gone.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH WILL DEPEND ON HOW PREPARED YOU ARE
Ready.gov suggests storing at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, but as the examples and quotes above show clearly, three days of supplies will not offer you or your family a true chance to survive in a worst case scenario, which experts admit is appearing more and more likely.
ANP recently published a series of articles on preparation, offering scenarios to hammer home the point that whether a person, a couple or a family survives a grid down event will completely depend on how prepared they are.
(We recommend readers browse through the comment sections of all three articles as commenters share helpful tips and ideas on preparing, helpful hints on preparing on a budget and more)
ANP is not suggesting anyone take their last dollar, their rent and utility bill money and go out on a prepper buying spree, but we DO suggest people start adding non-perishables, water, batteries, medical supplies, to their weekly shopping list, whatever extra you can spare to prepare. Grab some cash out of the bank if you can because ATM's won't work and banks will be closed.
As the recent reports of 159 successful hacks into the DoE computer systems show, we are "just a mouse click away" from being brought to our knees as a nation.
Remember it doesn't have to be a grid down scenario, but an extreme weather event can leave you powerless for weeks, a total economic collapse can bring about the same type of issues for surviving. If you are prepared for the worst, then you are prepared for anything else that comes your way.