Earlier this year some details were revealed about the National Security Agency's program to protect the power grid from cyber attacks. But it's probably safe to assume that given the speed at which technology advances, whatever they came up with is not fool proof.
And retired Lt. General James Clapper's recent testimony about the dangers of cyber criminals, which includes terrorists who have indicated interest in developing cyber capabilities, wasn't very reassuring. Cyber criminals are selling tools on the black market, and those tools are falling into the hands of state and non-state actors.
The reason we are talking about this today is because of Irving Lachow's C-Span appearance this morning. Dr. Lachow is Director of the Program on Technology and U.S. National Security at Center for New American Security. Watch it here. It's very informative.
In particular, around about the 19:30 point he addresses the electrical grid. According to him, only nation states currently have the capability of shutting off our electricity and keeping it off for long enough to do us major harm. But their interest in doing that is very low at this time. However there are people -- terrorists groups or nations like North Korea or Iran -- who really do want to hurt us. Fortunately, they don't yet have the capability. Dr. Lachow:
What we're seeing right now is a mismatch between the people who have the capability but right now don't have the intention,which is good, and people who have the intention but not yet have the capability. Which is good. So the worry is when those two lines cross, and the most likely scenario is the people who have the intention to do this will at some point acquire the capability. That is where there is concern. And General Clapper even mentioned the likelihood of that is low for the next couple of years. But looking out for the next five or ten years I think that is a serious concern.
Let's hope our government and the various electricity suppliers use that time wisely.