US warns of cyberattack threat on electrical grid

The United States’ Energy Department has warned of an ‘imminent danger’ to the nations electricity grid at the hands of sponsored cyber attacks.

The extensive report, published by the Energy Department has raised concerns that “widespread disruption of electric service because of a transmission failure initiated by a cyber attack at various points of entry could undermine U.S. lifeline networks, critical defence infrastructure and much of the economy; it could also endanger the health and safety of millions of citizens”.

The report also comments, “natural gas plays an increasingly important role as fuel for the nation’s electricity system; a gas pipeline outage or malfunction due to a cyber attack could affect not only pipeline and related infrastructures, but also the reliability of the nation’s electricity system.”

In order to deal with the threat, the report suggests that Congress should update the Federal Power Act to grant the DOE emergency powers over the electrical grid.

Cyberattacks on electrical systems aren’t uncommon, with the Ukraine experiencing grid disruptions following a series of cyber attacks that were alleged to have been caused by Russian hackers during territory disputes over eastern Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula.

The US intelligence community also has blamed Russian cyberattacks for interfering in the US presidential election, with President Barack Obama retaliating with sanctions.