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Anyone else wondering if recent substation attacks are “white hat” efforts to accelerate/prioritize grid hardening?

These actions, regardless of the true intentions, are hardly costless alarm sounding exercises. Hence the quotations around “white hat” here. 

Do these actions help place grid hardening (and prepping more generally) more on the front burner?

I think many people here would agree that some type of long-term grid down situation is one of the worst reasonably plausible scenarios.

And as has also been discussed in here recently, another very bad state of affairs is massively underprepared neighborhoods / communities, which can effectively undermine your own preparation (unless you’re extremely isolated/ well fortified?). 

Thoughts?

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  • Comments (10)

    • 3

      Seeing the number of power stations being affected by cyber attacks increase has encouraged me to be more prepared. I haven’t followed any of them closely enough to see if someone is requesting a ransom or are doing it for some political reason to give an opinion if someone is white hatting.

    • 2

      I posted on this subject here .

      The twitter link that I posted there has theories for who is responsible and possible motives.

      I’ve got some experience with grid connecting commercial scale renewables to the grid.

      IMO, experience has led me to believe that the only security solution here is an aggressive decentralization of our grid into thousands of smaller units that are capable of “islanding” by themselves. Since the current entities controlling the grid ($$$$) will resist losing control of things, I think the only thing that will force change is a major grid problem unfortunately.

      Resistance to change, regulatory capture, the fact that many electric components are manufactured offshore (like high voltage transformers with multiple years waiting times),etc. Utilities would really prefer you stay connected to the grid and paying them monthly, and you know all that grid hardening costs $$$ and cuts into shareholder profits. If you don’t like this scenario, I would encourage you to contact your elected officials with suggestions for the solutions that you would like to see. I’m kind of concerned that our grid repair parts might be withheld from us in the event of a grid problem.

      Back to prepping. Sorry about the rant. Short term,anything you can do to be more self sufficient with electrical stuff is always a good idea. From, being able to recharge your phone and small items to being able to keep the the critical items in your home (Refrigerator, furnace, freezer ) going in the event of a long grid outage (ice storm or something else).

      A lot of my posts on the forum are on this topic, so that might be of interest. Plus the forum mods have a lot of good how to articles , along with many other quality posts by forum members.

      • 1

        From being able to recharge your phone and small items to being able to keep the the critical items in your home (Refrigerator, furnace, freezer ) going. . .

        I would add a third: Having completely non-electric backup options (tools and skills) to meet your most basic needs, like food preservation and heat. 

        For example, our freezer is not a critical item.  Food is a critical item, but there are other ways of preserving it. 

    • 8

      Not plausible. Someone who found a vulnerability and wanted to help would report it quietly to people who can fix it. By showing that vulnerability to the whole world, they increase the odds of others exploiting the same vulnerability on a larger scale before it can be fixed.

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      what is white hat

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        This article explains “white hat” more thoroughly.

        https://www.wired.com/2016/04/hacker-lexicon-white-hat-gray-hat-black-hat-hackers/

        Basically, when someone probes a system to find weaknesses, they might have good intentions (fix the weakness) or bad intentions (exploit the weakness). White hat has good intentions.

        Even though the substation saboteur intentions are not yet completely clear, there’s plenty of reasons to believe they were overall bad intentioned, so they would be called “black hat”.

    • 2

      Looking at the reported motivations of past grid attackers, there could be a wide variety of reasons these latest attacks are happening:

      https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/what-motivated-the-pacific-northwest-substation-attacks/

      • 1

        Thanks for posting this article.  Lots of news here I didn’t see elsewhere.

    • 4

      According to reports from multiple media outlets, two men were arrested for Washington State / Christmas Day substation attacks.  Allegations that the attacks done to facilitate burglary.

      https://www.q13fox.com/news/energy-attack-in-washington-two-men-arrested-after-power-grid-knocked-out-on-christmas-day

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      And here are the details that were released:

      https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdwa/press-release/file/1560621/download

      • 3

        One already confessed to the motive being burglary. Sounds like they proceeded to rob a place affected by the power outage.

        These guys knew enough to disrupt substations but somehow didn’t think to leave their cell phones at home when they’re out committing crimes that can put them away for 20 years or more. 

      • 3

        While it’s possible the actual motive was burglary, it seems possible more details will emerge. Just speculation, but perhaps burglary is a better crime to confess to than some other crimes? Don’t most places with alarms have back up batteries for when the power is out? Would someone take out 4 substations for one convenience store robbery? Didn’t they take out substations after the burglary? I obviously don’t have all the facts, but the robbery claim may not end up being the whole story.

      • 1

        I agree with Amy….their quick and easy confession seems a bit too easy.