The most powerful nation in the world can do nothing to stop the increased frequency of major cyber attacks. United States energy secretary Ernest Moniz recently reported that it is becoming more and more difficult for USA’s cyber cops to “stay ahead of the bad guys.” In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor, Moniz revealed startling details about the vulnerability of United States natural gas pipelines.
“The natural gas system, the distribution pipes, are a big issue,” the concerned high-ranking US official stated. He went on to point out that, “About half of the distribution pipes in the country are 50 years old or older, so that’s a very obvious area” of cyber terrorism targeting. Since much of the country’s natural gas infrastructure was built at about the same time, it is all becoming aged and suspect at once.
Old, Failing Pipes and More Frequent Cyber Attacks Are a Recipe For Widespread Disaster
This means that the very pipes which deliver fuel to your home could be used to deliver odorless invisible viruses and airborne contaminants that you unwittingly taken into your body every time you draw a breath. The problem, Moniz explains, is twofold:
- Repairing or replacing millions of miles of natural gas distribution pipes will cost roughly $250 billion.
- Constant and increasingly frequent cyber attacks on that very system show that America’s enemies know exactly where we are our most vulnerable.
So the longer we as US citizens take to force our government to fix this problem, the possible ramifications from those two reasons become worse and worse. Many of these pipes are in excess of 50 years old. This aging infrastructure makes it easier for cyber terrorists to attack this gas delivery system which is handled by computers. Overloading stressed out pipes once the computer system is compromised could mean dangerously high levels of natural gas released in communities all over the United States.
The computer systems used to manage delivery of much of the United States natural gas supply are also in need of an upgrade. Coupled with extreme weather, Moniz said that a smartly timed cyber attack could be orchestrated simultaneous to a natural gas system breach to create not only a grid-down technological and electrical disaster, but also extreme delays in responding to those attacks.
“By the physical attacks we’ve seen on the grid, it’s obviously a widely distributed and therefore somewhat exposed system,” Moniz said in reference to the natural gas distribution network in the United States. Terrorists are attacking the computers and physical hardware that deliver heat and cooking fuel to millions of Americans, and the very US Energy Secretary in charge of keeping that system running properly easily admits that there are no solid solutions in sight.
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