Who turned the lights out?

14-09-2015

Who turned the lights out?

While cyber risk is getting higher on the agenda of every company, a recent Lloyd’s report which also detailed severe potential insurance losses should make the industry sit up and take notice of this fast-growing but ever-changing threat, as Intelligent Insurer discovers.

The US power grid and the power plants that it relies on are vulnerable to disruption by hackers, which could potentially lead to the lights going out over a large part of the continent, according to a new report from Lloyd’s.

The July 2015 report—Business Blackout; the insurance implications of a cyber attack on the US power grid—was produced with the help of the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Risk Studies and looks at the implications of an organised hacker attack on US power stations, inserting custom-made malicious software (malware) into control rooms that would then make power generators operate in such a way that they would seize up or even catch fire.

According to the report, a successful malware attack that disabled just 50 major generators would overload the system and cause a cascade failure across an entire region. Under this scenario, which would be difficult but not impossible to carry out, this would leave around 93 million people without power for anything from a few days to a few weeks.


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