New Cyber Attacks Will Target Power Grids And Major Public Works

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
By Paul Martin

Robert Johnson
Sep. 14, 2011

Commander of the new U.S. Cyber Command General Keith Alexander said Tuesday that he’s most concerned about attacks targeting America’s electrical grid, and destroying large public machinery.

Gen. Alexander says cyber-attacks over the Internet are shifting from data theft to physical assaults.

To illustrate his point the General used two examples.

Russian turbine after computer switched it on during repair
Image: wikipedia commons
First, he pointed to the 2003 Northeast power outage started by a downed tree branch. Following the initial accident at the pole, the utility company’s computer entered “pause” mode, cutting power to people in several states and illustrating the effect an intruder could have on any power grid.
The second incident involved the 2009 destruction of a hydro-electric generator at Russia’s Sayano-Shushenskaya dam.

While one of the dam’s 10 650-megawatt turbine generators was offline for repairs, a technician 500-miles away re-started it, sending the turbine 50-feet into the air before exploding.
The ensuing flood killed 75 people and destroyed eight of the nine remaining turbines.

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