What Weapons Do Electric Power Warfare Have: Soft Cyber Damage and Hard Military Destruction

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 What Weapons Do Electric Power Warfare Have: Soft Cyber Damage and Hard Military Destruction

[Global Times reports special correspondent Shi Liufeng Wuyan] Venezuelas national blackout, which lasted for several days, is known as unprecedented in the countrys history, and has seriously damaged the normal operation of Venezuelan society. As we all know, electricity is the foundation of modern society. Its security and stability are related to national security, social stability and economic development. To enhance the defensive capability of power system, we must first understand the possible attack means. The Global Times interviewed several experts on this issue on the 14th.

The threat of network is becoming more and more obvious

Venezuelan President Maduro declared that the countrys power system had been subjected to massive cyber attacks, high-tech cyber attacks against Venezuela have been launched, and only the United States has the technology to launch such attacks.

An anonymous network security expert told the Global Times Thursday that with the wide application of information and Internet technology in power systems, network viruses and network attacks pose risks to power system security. At present, network attacks against power grid can be roughly divided into three categories: component mode, protocol mode and topology mode.

According to reports, compared with other infrastructure facilities, the characteristics of power system interconnection make it extremely easy to be pulled all over. For example, the sudden surge in power demand in a certain power grid may lead to the collapse of transmission lines in the region due to excessive load, or even drag down most generators in the power grid to trip and go offline. And the ideas of network attack on power grid are mostly focused on this.

The so-called component approach mainly attacks specific parts of the information technology infrastructure of the power grid. By misleading data to operators, it destroys the power grid equipment or cuts off the power grid equipment in a specific area. Protocol attack mainly locks the target on the grid information protocol of power automation equipment, controls the communication between grid nodes, leads to excessive output of power, resulting in economic and security losses, and even causes equipment damage through power overload. The topological attack, aiming at the characteristics of power system interconnection, launches a cascading attack on one or more targets, which leads to cascading failures of power supply.

Particularly worrying is that with the advent of the Internet of Things era, more and more high-power household equipment, such as microwave ovens, electric ovens, air conditioners, are connected to the Internet of Things. If hackers attack through the network and start these appliances on a large scale at the same time, the sudden increase in power demand is enough to cause serious impact on the normal operation of the grid.

Experts say that network intrusions initiated by different organizations and different ways of power system cause different degrees of damage and damage, and it is difficult to restore normal. From late December 2015 to mid-January 2016, eight power companies in Ukraine were attacked by network, which resulted in large-scale power outages in the western part of Ukraine and had a significant impact on the lives of 1.4 million people. This is a destructive attack from cyberspace to physical space, which belongs to a high-level sustained cyberthreat attack. This time Venezuelas massive blackout, to some extent, has re-enacted this scene.

Mature Physical Power-off Technology

Venezuelas State Electric Power Corporation has reported signs of man-made destruction at the Guri hydropower station, which accounts for about 60% of the countrys electricity supply. Since the realization of electrification in human society, the destruction of power supply by physical means has become an important goal of military strikes. Since World War II, the attack on power facilities has not only destroyed the key target of the opponents war potential, but also is one of the important means to force the enemy to yield.

The most direct way to cut power is to destroy the entity. The more concentrated the power hub, the worse the anti-damage ability. In World War II, 1.4% of Germanys power plants generated 51% of the countrys total electricity. Allied forces bombed these power plants strategically, paralysing German industry and soon losing the battle. On the contrary, in Japan, where power plants are smaller, 75% of the electricity generated is supplied by a large number of scattered small power plants, which virtually avoids the risk of putting all eggs in the same basket. The Allied Strategic Bombing Survey report at that time acknowledged that it was impossible, if not impossible, to completely destroy Japans electricity supply.

Indirect power outages also appeared during the Kosovo War in 1999. Through 78 days of bombing, NATO destroyed more than 80% of the energy targets of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, such as electricity and oil. It also used graphite fiber bombs to destroy the power grid, which resulted in a large-scale power outage in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, directly affecting the process and outcome of the Kosovo War. This kind of soft-killing power cut-off is no less a blow to the enemys resistance than a hard-break.

Power grid security, the United States is ahead

Countries all over the world attach great importance to the maintenance of power system security, and have adopted legislative protection, technical prevention, risk diversification and other methods to improve the anti-damage ability of their power grids. Especially in the United States, the earliest in the field of grid security, go ahead of the world.

Wang Fangfang, a professor at National Defense University, told the Global Times that the safe power generation and transmission capacity of the power grid must be an important part of the national strategic capacity, and peacetime construction should focus on wartime protection and proactive planning. Not only the layout scale and location of power plants need to be carefully evaluated, but also the factories and lines of important power plants need to have certain protective capabilities. Important transmission lines can be hidden underground instead of hidden. Generators should be installed in important places, factories and hospitals as backups. These are the necessary measures to enhance the physical protection of power system.

According to a survey by Symantec, an American information security company, hackers have infiltrated the power infrastructure of many Western countries, capable of destroying the entire national grid, and referred to a series of hacker attacks on American Electric Energy Corporation. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Energy has invested heavily in developing tools and technologies to improve the network security of national power, oil, gas and other energy transmission control systems. The United States also organizes six national laboratories to develop new generation of grid monitoring system applications, vulnerability verification, risk analysis and information sharing technology for relevant personnel.

In order to prevent hackers from attacking the power system, the United States not only arranges network forces to protect the information system of nuclear power plants, but also trains network fighters to improve the ability to protect the power grid from attacks. In recent years, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has also organized many Cyberstorm exercises to exercise the ability of the U.S. government, power companies and private institutions to cope with network threats and ensure grid security.

Source: Global Times - Global Network. More exciting, please log on to the World Wide Web http://www.huanqiu.com responsible editor: Wang Xu_NBJS8023