The specter of a large-scale, destructive attack on the U.S. power grid is at the center of much strategic thinking about cybersecurity. For years, Americans have been warned by a bevy of would-be Cassandras in Congress, the administration and the press that hackers are poised to shut it down. But in fact, the half-dozen security experts interviewed for this article agreed it’s virtually impossible for an online-only attack to cause a widespread or prolonged outage of the North American power grid. Even laying the groundwork for such a cyber operation could qualify as an act of war against the U.S. — a line that few nation-state-backed hacker crews would wish to cross. None denied that determined hackers could penetrate the networks of bulk power providers. But there’s a huge gap between that and causing a civilization-ending sustained outage of the grid. Electrical-grid hacking scenarios mostly overlook the engineering expertise necessary to intentionally cause harm to the grid, say experts knowledgeable about the power generators and high voltage transmission entities that constitute the backbone of the grid — what’s called the bulk power system. via POLITICO.com.
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