FARC rebels recently took out the power of a strategic port city in Colombia by attacking a power line tower 27 kilometers away. This is another flash point putting the U.S. on notice that the U.S. grid is vulnerable to physical attack. A North Korean defector recently pointed out that the reason North Korea’s cyber military unit targeted hydro and electrical grid targets in South Korea is because of the conventional impact of this type of asymmetric attack. It is speculated by experts that Iran was behind the cyber attack that recently took out the power in most of Turkey earlier this year. Terrorist groups, including al Qaeda have taken out the power of over 140 million people in Pakistan and Yemen in the last year and a half.
This increasing frequency in black out tactics should make it abundantly clear that the privately owned U.S. electrical utilities are not prepared for physical attacks or asymmetric attacks from a menu of threats. Despite assurances from the electrical industry industry, this local NBC Bay Area story exposed PG&E’s failure to upgrade security after terrorist attacks on their own facility that could have blacked out Silicon Valley. A more successful attack of this nature can cause a break down of rule of law if it takes the power out for a longer period of time. Lack of communications for law enforcement, emergency personnel, clean water and food storage can render urban populations incapable of self defense or self governance.