Wednesday, April 08, 2009

One if by land, two if by Internet

By Capt. Fogg

Richard Clarke has a habit of giving important warnings that go ignored by us and by our government. Had the Bush administration listened to him, there might have been a chance to thwart the September 11th attack or at least to have been more prepared. Critics, of course (read Republicans), preferred to retaliate rather than to take heed. I can only hope that if recent reports are true that our electrical power grid is highly vulnerable to malicious tampering through the internet, someone, this time, will listen -- in time.

I admit that the likelihood of an armed invasion by Russia or China or any country, for that matter is quite small, but the ability to couple one with massive, continent wide power outages is a dangerous weapon all by itself. Many people do not appreciate how dependent we are on the power grid and how communications, hospitals, transportation, water and sewage -- and yes those cell phones also depend on it. Those of us who have suffered through multiple hurricane events are not so sanguine. We know that without power we would find ourselves wishing for Paul Revere to let anyone know who or what was coming. Then of course, there are terrorists. Can you imagine the additional chaos had all power and most communications been off in Washington and New York on that awful day in 2001? Can you imagine the panic had the rest of the country been unable to get the full story? Even without an attack, widespread blackouts could cost us billions -- each time it happened.

Why are we so vulnerable? Because we use the internet to control the power grid and therefore so can someone else. Pull the plug, said Clarke on ABC to Diane Sawyer today. It may cost some money, but it may save us from a huge disaster. Will our new administration listen this time or will it do what George Bush did 8 years ago?

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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