If a rogue state, terrorist, or malcontent wanted to debilitate a major city or even an entire country, how could it make a widespread, immediate, and lasting impact? Quite simply, just strike at the facilities that produce and distribute the electrical power that everything else depends on.
Anything from the lights and appliances in your home to heart monitors in hospitals to air defense systems — anything could be compromised by a single, targeted attack on the energy grid. Only today, the weapon of choice is not a rocket launcher, but rather, malicious software code — malware that is skillfully designed to destroy, disrupt, or take control of the complex systems on which the grid runs.
There was a time when “energy security” meant chain link fences and barbed wire around substations and transmission lines, and natural disasters were more of a threat than man-made ones. Today, however, the safe and reliable flow of energy from supply to demand is increasingly dependent on automation and interconnected embedded systems. And it will inevitably become even more so, as the “smart grid” envisioned by energy producers and policymakers takes shape.
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