Think tank says Obama’s ‘green’ energy policies make cyberattack on the U.S. power grid more likely

Thursday, July 07, 2016 by

(Cyberwar.news) The possibility of a devastating cyber attack on the U.S. power grid is much more likely today, thanks to the Obama administration’s pursuit of politically correct policies that spend large sums of taxpayer funds on green and smart grid technology while failing to divert more attention to security the grids from hackers, according to a new assessment, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

The report, by the Manhattan Institute, a New York-based think tank, warned that the drive to move the country more towards wind and solar electric power into the $6 trillion electric utility system has created new vulnerabilities that other nation states could exploit in a future conflict.

“Electric grids have always been vulnerable to natural hazards and malicious physical attacks,” Mark Mills, a physicist and engineer who authored the Manhattan Institute report, wrote. “Now the U.S. faces a new risk—cyber attacks—that could threaten public safety and greatly disrupt daily life.”

As the Free Beacon reported further:

The U.S. electrical power network is not made up of a single grid, but a complex web of eight regional “supergrids” linked to thousands of local grids. Under a drive for improved efficiency, government policymakers and regulators in recent years have spent tens of billions of dollars on so-called “smart grid” technology. But the efficiency drive has not been matched with new technology that will secure grids against cyber attacks. 

Utility owners also have resisted improving cyber security over concerns doing so would increase operating costs and force unpopular rate hikes. Yet the failure to take steps now to deal with future threats could prove catastrophic.

The Manhattan Institute report says that the threat isn’t the current state of security. Rather, it said, the future use of greener, so-called “smarter” grids, that will be interconnected and linked to the Internet, will be more vulnerable. It is like the difference between an old-fashioned locked file cabinet and an encrypted database that can be accessed by hackers online.

“These greener, smarter grids will involve a vast expansion of the Internet of Things that greatly increases the cyber attack surface available to malicious hackers and hostile nation-state entities,” the report warned, adding that cyber attacks overall have risen 60 percent annually over the past six years and increasingly include the targeting of electric utilities.

A recent survey by Cisco Systems revealed that 70 percent of electric utility security managers suffered at least one security breach, the WFB noted. But the Obama administration’s liberal policies advocating more green technology has diverted funds from bolstering cybersecurity.

“Greater grid cyber security in the future means that policymakers must rethink the deployment of green and smart grids until there are assurances that security technologies have caught up,” the report recommends.

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