There has always been a looming threat of a cyberattack aimed at electrical grids across the U.S. With such a scary thought, officials are voicing their expert opinion expressing that the U.S. government is not prepared for a cyberattack on the electrical grid in its current state.
Fear mongers will possibly take the words directly out of the mouth of Representative Lou Barletta, a Pennsylvania Republican, who stated this week that a widespread, long-lasting power outage caused by a cyberattack may be unlikely, but the U.S. government needs to have a better plan to prepare for the probability of such happening.
Cyberattacks are the new thing when it comes to robbing banks or conducting potential terrorist attacks. No longer are the savvy crooks conducting their attacks in person, they are taking to the Internet to perform malicious activities that ultimately cause the demise of critical and essential infrastructures. With that in mind, the electric grid has always been a vulnerable entity that many officials fear could succumb to a massive and highly targeted cyberattack.
Subcommittee members along with Barletta made it clear in their idea of the U.S. government not being prepared for a cyberattack on the electrical grid to look to the coordinated attack on Ukraine's power grid that left over 200,000 people without power for several hours. Not to mention, natural disasters in the past have caused massive power outages for several weeks up to months in some areas of the world. A highly targeted cyberattack could do the same.
In one of his recent statements addressing the issue of a cyberattack on the U.S. electrical grid, Barletta said, "Imagine what we would do without electricity for a day, a week, a month, a year." "If the goal of the bad guys is to collapse the United States' economic system, they are going to try to cut off the power."
On the flip side of not being ready, it's comforting to know that federal agencies are prepared in the event of a widespread power outage in the U.S. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has already planned for widespread electrical outages no matter what causes them.
While agencies like FEMA are prepared, it doesn't mean that a widespread power outage in the U.S. will be "okay" in the scope of people continuing life as normal. FEMA and other agencies will simply react to the situation and resources within such agencies can quickly become depleted for care if a cyberattack on the U.S. power grid left citizens without power for several months.
Probably the best news to come out of the idea of a large portion of the U.S. electrical grid being knocked out by a massive cyberattack, is that the grid's infrastructure, by design, is resilient. The grid's "resilient" state was eloquently put by Caitlin Durkovich, the Department of Homeland Security's assistant secretary for infrastructure protection.
Hopefully, the U.S. government and other officials implement the necessary protection measures to ensure the power grid remains to be reliant and thwart any future cyberattacks to bring it down.