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When The Power Goes Out?

Posted by Tobias Sommer on

Are you prepared for when the power goes out? Do you have an adequate plan for when the power goes out for 2 hours, 2 days, 2 weeks or even 2 months? Many people tell me that my power has not gone out in years so why should I worry about it. Here is the truth of the matter. Our utility grid was designed and built over 50 years ago and was never meant to have the demand it does now. In the last ten to twenty years our technology boom has made a whole new surge of devices that plug in from computers, phones, to data centers and cars. This new technology is becoming something that we cant live without. 

Can you live without power?

Sure but for how long. I guess what I am saying is that we can live without power but the technology we love that makes everything automated and running smoothly is not secure. My biggest fear and yours should be that we live in a time that people can take a plane and make it into a missile. We never thought of that right. So if Iran, Russia, North Korea or China wanted to start a war with the US do you think they would launch a missile and invade or do you think they will send a virus into our utilities and shut the computers down that keep everything running smoothly? Well they are already have done it and so have we. Its not a matter of if it can be done as much as are we ready to protect ourselves when it happens. Like 9/11 the warning signs are there and no one is doing anything because till it happens we don't think it will.

Hacking on the rise!

Russia has knocked cities power and communication out. They also have broke into servers and taken emails and information after being banned in the Olympics. North Korea hacked Sony pictures to stop the release of the movie The Interview. In response North Korea was blacked out for 3 days and the US never claimed responsibility. Iran's nuclear program was hacked and sent the reactors into failure. Facebook, Microsoft, Target and Home Depot have all had major hacks in recent years. Terrorist organizations need money to fund their cause so they hack into credit card info so they can steal money. These are just some examples and are the tip of the iceberg. Many of these hacks are never announced or released. Private companies try to keep this under wraps so consumers don't lose confidence or they really don't know that they have been hacked. Needless to say hackers can and will get in and do what they want. 

Grid is fragile and not secure. 

So the power grid is similar to a train station. All the tracks are connected and if one line shuts down they can reroute to a different station for redundancy and emergency routing. But lets say we were attacked by a cyber terrorist. If the right amount of sub stations were shut down in specific locations the whole thing would collapse and need rebuilding. Basically all the power filters through a couple of main stations that need to stay on. The smaller stations just route locally, while the main stations are secure the smaller stations are not. If I wanted to shut the main ones down I would simply hijack a smaller station and come in a back door to the main one. I may be over simplifying things but my point is that it can happen and its easier than you think. We take power for granted in our busy lives and if it was taken away it could be worse than a nuclear blast. We would have at least seen the nuclear bomb coming which North Korea has now and has tested successfully. By the way that was a 10 megaton bomb and the one we used in Hiroshima was 15 megaton. It could be feasibly shot from a cargo ship off the coast as a EMP to also attack our grid. Our sub station transformers are custom built overseas and have 12 month to 2 year turnaround time for replacement. 

Healthy fear. 

I am not trying to sound like a paranoid crazy conspiracy theorist. I am trying to just educate people that this is a real threat and you should have a healthy fear. A backup plan is exactly that, a emergency plan that will keep you alive in a tornado, earthquake, hurricane or cyber attack. The weather events will happen and cant be prevented, but cyber attacks can. So ask yourself when the power goes out, what will you do? How will you execute your plan B or do you even have one?