"F". Failed. Flunked. Did not succeed.
All of these are grades, words and phrases that could be applied to our government's performance during a mock cyber-attack that was held in February -
A large-scale simulated cyberattack on the U.S. yesterday proved one thing, according to organizers: The country isn't prepared for a real attack.It was a large-scale attack on the nation's smart phone system, which then spread to other, more important areas -
In a press release issued today, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) -- which organized "Cyber Shockwave" using a group of former government officials and computer simulations -- concluded the U.S is "unprepared for cyber threats."
The simulation envisioned an attack that unfolds during a single day in July 2011. When the council convenes to face this crisis, 20 million of the nation's smartphones have already stopped working. The attack -- the result of a malware program that had been planted in phones months earlier through a popular "March Madness" basketball bracket application -- disrupts mobile service for millions. The attack escalates, shutting down an electronic energy trading platform and crippling the power grid on the Eastern seaboard.As the article noted, the "defenders" could not even accurately identify the source of the attack, let alone how to stop it.
Here in California, many of us have already been switched over to the new Smart Meters. These are a big, fat, easy target. From an article written in September 2009 -
Baker says that once someone has gotten access to a smart meter's programming [which he describes how to do in the article], he could easily launch a worm or other malware to attack the network itself, other smart meters, and other devices attached to the grid. In fact, Baker has already demonstrated that it can be done, the article says:Instead of worrying about a nation-state firing off an EMP burst over the US, we need to worry about some hacker taking down the grid with a bit of code.
To demonstrate his attack, Davis crafted a piece of malware that could self-replicate to other meters, allowing an attacker to shut them down remotely. In simulations, Davis showed that if his worm were released in an area where all the houses were equipped with the same brand of meter, the worm could spread to 15,000 homes in the space of 24 hours.
What negative impacts would we have with a hacked grid (as opposed to one caused by an EMP)?
Money: No ATM access. Banks would likely be closed as well, as they will not allow customers in without security systems (cameras, alarms, etc) in place. This would likely be remedied within a few days by banks having armed guards in all branches. How much cash do you keep on hand?
Heating and Cooking: No gas or electricity to run your stove and oven. No gas or electricity to heat your home. The gas and electric would be unavailable for as long as it took the utility companies to restore their system. A day? A week? A month? Longer? Do you have other, non-grid dependent methods of providing these necessities?
Sewage and Water: No industrial pumps to remove your sewage or provide you with water at your tap. The sewage and water issues would likely be helped in the early stages by back-up generators, but when the generators run out of fuel, you run out of water pressure. Do you have alternate sources of water and the means to make it potable? How would you dispose of human waste in such a situation?
Medical Equipment: No electricity means any home dialysis or other similar machines become inoperable. Related to this would be your storage of medicines that require refrigeration, such as insulin. Do you have a plan and a means of providing for your life-sustaining medical needs if the grid goes down?
Transportation: Your car would still work, but only as long as your gasoline lasted. The gas stations rely on electric pumps, so those pools of gasoline would be unavailable, at least until desperate people got creative. Do you keep a supply of safely-stored gasoline on hand?
The list goes on and on - no computers, no air conditioning, no cellphone service, no electric trolley/BART service, no Internet...
Make your plans and buy your provisions NOW. We all understand the foolishness of relying on any type of government entity to come to our rescue. They may not have the knowledge and resources to do what you need done.
Articles such as these just bring home the point: YOU are the only one you can rely on, especially in an emergency situation.
You can reach Chief Instructor at Accept The Challenge.