Study Predicts More Frequent And Severe Blackouts In The Coming Years

A new assessment from a British and New Zealand research team has concluded that the worldwide electrical grid will suffer more frequent and significant outages if current trends continue.

In their report, which was published in the Social Space Scientific Journal, the two authors noted that nearly three quarters of American transmission lines are more than 25 years old. Continue reading

US Nuclear Power Plants May Be Totally Vulnerable To Hackers

BOSTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government is looking into claims by a cyber security researcher that flaws in software for specialized networking equipment from Siemens could enable hackers to attack power plants and other critical systems.

The Department of Homeland Security said in an alert released on Tuesday that it had asked RuggedCom to confirm the vulnerability that Clarke, a 30-year-old security expert who has long worked in the electric utility field, had identified and identify steps to mitigate its impact.

“If you can get to the inside, there is almost no authentication, there are almost no checks and balances to stop you,” Clarke said.

Marcus Carey, a researcher with Boston-based security firm Rapid7, said potential attackers might exploit the bug discovered by Clarke to disable communications networks as one element of a broader attack.

“It’s a big deal,” said Carey, who previously helped defend military networks as a member of the U.S. Navy Cryptologic Security Group. “Since communications between these devices is critical, you can totally incapacitate an organization that requires the network.”

The report on the RuggedCom vulnerability is among 90 released so far this year by ICS-CERT about possible risks to critical infrastructure operators. That is up from about 60 in the same period a year earlier, according to data published on the agency’s website.

Full article: US Nuclear Power Plants May Be Totally Vulnerable To Hackers (Business Insider)

Ready To Launch

China conducts rare flight test of new submarine-launched missile

China’s military conducted a flight test of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile last week, a launch that came a month after the test of a new multiple-warhead, ground-mobile missile, the Free Beacon has learned.

The flight test of the new JL-2 missile took place Thursday morning from a new Jin-class ballistic missile submarine on patrol in the Bohai Sea, near the coast of northeastern China west of the Korean peninsula, said U.S. officials.

One official said the new JL-2 represents a “potential first strike” nuclear missile in China’s growing arsenal.

The submarine missile firing followed the July 24 test launch of China’s new DF-41 road-mobile ICBM that is assessed to carry multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs.

The July 24 DF-41 test was the first of the new long-range ICBM that until the test had been shrouded in secrecy.

In addition to the JL-2, a variant of the DF-31 mobile missile, the new strategic weapons include three types of road-mobile ICBMs—DF-31, DF-31A, and DF-41—along with several intermediate and medium-range missiles and hundreds of short-range missiles that can be armed with both conventional and nuclear warheads. The Chinese also are modernizing their fleet of Russian-design strategic bombers.

By contrast, the Obama administration has been seeking to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. defense strategy.

The administration, according to Republicans in Congress, also appears to be going back on promises made to the Senate in 2010 to spend billions of dollars to upgrade aging U.S. strategic nuclear forces and infrastructure.

The former head of Russia’s strategic rocket forces stated in an article published in May that China’s nuclear arsenal could have as many 3,000 warheads—far more than the 300 to 400 warheads estimated by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Full article: Ready To Launch (Washington Free Beacon)