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America’s Electric Grid Has a Vulnerable Back Door—and Russia Walked Through It

By The Wall Street Journal

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  • Technology companies have not acknowledged, much less accepted the greater responsibility that comes with the opportunity to provide strategic infrastructure. Their customers, either through negligence or incompetence, have not insisted on standards of security and reliability that would be considered

    Technology companies have not acknowledged, much less accepted the greater responsibility that comes with the opportunity to provide strategic infrastructure. Their customers, either through negligence or incompetence, have not insisted on standards of security and reliability that would be considered a requirement for analogous systems acquired by the military (e.g., weaponry).

    Forty years of chronic underinvestment in infrastructure by government and private industry have left us vulnerable to a very wide range of bad outcomes, from election interference, to disruptions of the power grid, to failing roads and bridges.

    Meanwhile, the government shutdown is three weeks old and counting ...

  • This is what the 21st Century really looks like. This is what technology enables, this is where the sovereign threats now lie.

  • The wall we need is not on the border, it's around our utilities and communications infrastructure... 🤦‍♂️

  • Cyber security on the grid is a huge and ongoing challenge and this article highlights how our infrastructure is made vulnerable. It’s a multifaceted problem. The attackers understood how people actually use systems, not how they are supposed to use systems. People share, people find work arounds if

    Cyber security on the grid is a huge and ongoing challenge and this article highlights how our infrastructure is made vulnerable. It’s a multifaceted problem. The attackers understood how people actually use systems, not how they are supposed to use systems. People share, people find work arounds if systems are overly “checkbox-driven.” People expect to use modern work communications and cloud-based SAAS workflow systems even though legacy system integration hasn’t caught up.

    Security is designed as an after thought and it’s a constant challenge to give workers what they need to run the systems efficiently but to still secure the wall between operational systems and the rest of the business.

    The “back door” is where smaller utilities and their subs are an easy target because cyber security on the grid is very, very expensive and requires a lot of expertise.

    The good news is that there are people that spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to stay ahead, including an entire research team at Idaho National Labs and inside of the important vendors. It’s a new Cold War.

  • Our power infrastructure needs to get its act together. They need to address cyber security, now, and much like Y2K, we need a full court press, involving private enterprise, government and the military.

  • Rebuilding infrastructure should be a high priority for the United States. I think they’re trying, but, not fast enough.

    Innovation has historically gone to the organization that steals the revolution (which is what Russia is doing walking in through the backdoor). Why aren’t we rebuilding infrastructure

    Rebuilding infrastructure should be a high priority for the United States. I think they’re trying, but, not fast enough.

    Innovation has historically gone to the organization that steals the revolution (which is what Russia is doing walking in through the backdoor). Why aren’t we rebuilding infrastructure and innovating as a nation is a question worth answering.

  • This is truly a national emergency and we should address it by diversifying our systems. If the power ever did go out and it effected a multi - state area and if it lasted for more than a week... anarchy will not be far behind.

  • “Office manager Corinna Sawyer thought the wording was strange and emailed Mr. Vitello: “Just received this from your email, I assume you have been hacked.”” It reads like a scene in “House of Cards”.

    The “wording was strange”. This is great. I inherently do not trust emails and even less so when the

    “Office manager Corinna Sawyer thought the wording was strange and emailed Mr. Vitello: “Just received this from your email, I assume you have been hacked.”” It reads like a scene in “House of Cards”.

    The “wording was strange”. This is great. I inherently do not trust emails and even less so when the wording is off. Spotting these glitches will be even more difficult as robots and AI improve. Everyone has to stay vigilante and stay aware, especially when dealing in utilities, transportation and technology.

    Technology will always have back doors so it’s critical now more than ever that people like Ms. Sawyer and others become the stop gap. Education, training and the ethical compass of the various corporate cultures will define the winners and losers in the myriad of cyber battles that lie ahead.

  • Fascinating and scary!

  • Everyone better read this. Russia could bring us to the dark ages. We don’t need a Space Force. We need a CYBER FORCE.

  • This is deeply concerning, though not unexpected.

  • Seriously, that in the year 2019 we're still shocked by the effectiveness of social engineering is sad. It seems few people now remember the days of Kevin Mitnick... Critical infrastructure task forces should always warn and train secondary targets and run drills that exploit social engineering. After

    Seriously, that in the year 2019 we're still shocked by the effectiveness of social engineering is sad. It seems few people now remember the days of Kevin Mitnick... Critical infrastructure task forces should always warn and train secondary targets and run drills that exploit social engineering. After the Clinton emails mess, it seems the Democratic party learned their lesson, now how about they expand it to other critical entities?

  • Imagine being at war with no electricity.

    Instead of spending billions on a handful of airplanes, why not spend it on firewalls? - oh wait, the government is on shutdowns

  • Two Thoughts:

    1. The utility industry has an amazing record of preventing and responding to physical outages, but is absolutely not prepared for technology-driven outages, which could be much larger in scale and consequence.

    2. The technology exists to allow individual energy users to manage their

    Two Thoughts:

    1. The utility industry has an amazing record of preventing and responding to physical outages, but is absolutely not prepared for technology-driven outages, which could be much larger in scale and consequence.

    2. The technology exists to allow individual energy users to manage their own reliability through solar and lithium-based energy storage, and do so in a financially responsible way.

    Do as you will with those two facts, but I am putting solar on my roof and a cutting-edge battery system in my basement, both for the financial returns and the knowledge that I won’t be in the dark for days (weeks?!) on end.

  • Incredibly interesting story revealing the depth and degree of hacking attempts to gain access to our infrastructure. While it is somewhat shocking to read, it has long been a tactic to not attack a target directly but indirectly. The “vulnerable back doors” are actually small to medium businesses, which

    Incredibly interesting story revealing the depth and degree of hacking attempts to gain access to our infrastructure. While it is somewhat shocking to read, it has long been a tactic to not attack a target directly but indirectly. The “vulnerable back doors” are actually small to medium businesses, which means that cyber security should be at the top of their agenda these days.

  • Wow! Simply terrifying...

  • Anyone that actually work in the it field knows that we are our own worst enemy. How many times has an upgrade gone wrong? How many times has someone intentionally dropped a network? It's only a matter of time before an intern inadvertently does what Russia claims they can do.

  • We need to wise up with 5G just around the bend!

  • Very troubling to learn that they are not being proactive in how they guard against cyber infiltration

  • Our entire nation can now be brought down by a foreign power at the push of a button.

  • We have known about these vulnerabilities since the dawn of the technological era yet there seems to be no motivation to address the weaknesses by our elected officials. Which begs another question that will be discussed at a later date.

  • This is just the tip of an iceberg (Voting Systems, Social Media, Emails, Banking, etc.). The Military is useless in protecting America when our enemy’s best strategy is to penetrate our system of communication and control our way of thinking and actions through deception. Now that Russia owns the President

    This is just the tip of an iceberg (Voting Systems, Social Media, Emails, Banking, etc.). The Military is useless in protecting America when our enemy’s best strategy is to penetrate our system of communication and control our way of thinking and actions through deception. Now that Russia owns the President of The USA (Capitalism - anything can be bought) they were able to shut down our government over a bullshit wall issue and our best defense and internal controls monitored through technology and not managed by a worthless leader has placed our nation in a tough situation to defend the people and our way of life. Russia has found a way to destroy our desire for democracy from within. Emotional ignorance is not the solution. Try God’s recommendation ... Wisdom.

  • The fact that we have no cyber force, and this is an afterthought, is beyond the pale.

  • Infrastructure, health care, education, and job creation are permount.

  • The Age of Convolution & Terror— so much for progress!

  • We are going to continue to be vulnerable to Russia as long as our President is in Putin's control.

  • This is seriously scary

  • We knew this would happen eventually. Thus is why utilities, hospitals and other industries need to have diligent oversight by federal authorities with their high level of cyber awareness. The free market doesn't prioritize security and even if they did, the solutions would be ad-hoc and insufficient

    We knew this would happen eventually. Thus is why utilities, hospitals and other industries need to have diligent oversight by federal authorities with their high level of cyber awareness. The free market doesn't prioritize security and even if they did, the solutions would be ad-hoc and insufficient. Power, communications, emergency response, water and food are national security. We need more regulations and oversight, not less. Anyone who insists the free-market can substitute for federal regulations and oversight isn't thinking clearly or is being disingenuous.

  • #china

  • I believe the past tense of light is "lit" not "lighted"... Check grammar in first sentence.

  • We need a physical wall AND a cyber wall. There's a lot of bad guys out there.

  • Not surprised. We are too busy worrying about celebs.

  • Perhaps both. They're not mutually exclusive.

  • This is what progress looks like. The US invariably uses methods like this in other regions although I have no definitive proof.

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