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Author Topic: GridEx 2013  (Read 3620 times)

Offline OutWestTX

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #30 on: September 25, 2013, 06:55:42 PM »
Did you watch the video?  That is the part of Texas I live in.  Plenty of grass, wildlife, and yes, we have armadillos just for Kona. 
It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.

Offline TexDaddy

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #31 on: September 25, 2013, 07:38:38 PM »
Last year we had 3 armadillos living in our back yard. They kept the possum company.  8)
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Offline OutWestTX

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #32 on: September 25, 2013, 07:55:08 PM »
Last year we had 3 armadillos living in our back yard. They kept the possum company.  8)

I see them in my yard, too.  My Mexican neighbor eats them. 
It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.

Offline Taylor3006

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #33 on: September 26, 2013, 12:17:46 AM »
Really?  You all crack me up!  You all act like Texas is some uninhabitable place where people boil alive if they go outside.  Never mind that the county I live in has the highest density of deer in the US or that Texas is #1 in the US in beef production.  Animals not only survive, they THRIVE here.  The goats and chickens in my backyard are just fine as long as they have shade and water.  They seem just as happy as the goats and chickens I raised in my previous state.  In fact, I have fewer problems with goats here because we don't have the long, damp, cold winters.

Y'all need to watch this video... http://vimeo.com/22132017  ....You can see in the video that Texas has grass and trees and plenty of wildlife.

Shhhhhhhhh.....   Everyone knows that the deers in Texas live in cool caves......   Texas is hot, humid and a death trap for the unwary. Every poisonous insect and reptile known to man lives here and recently many deaths due to cuperacha (however its spelt). Land is expensive, jobs scarce, and food is in short supply. Mexican drug gangs routinely cross the border and slaughter entire towns of people. That why Brownsville no longer exsists. Rumor has it that what little water remains in the state, is radioactive now.....
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Offline Cedar

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #34 on: September 26, 2013, 12:20:46 AM »
My power went out 4x in 2 minutes and then off for an hour today. I thought about this thread LOL

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Offline Taylor3006

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #35 on: September 26, 2013, 12:25:21 AM »
My power went out 4x in 2 minutes and then off for an hour today. I thought about this thread LOL

Cedar

Yes saw that on the news. Death toll at 367 and rising.... At least the Red Cross was there quickly...
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Offline Cedar

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #36 on: September 26, 2013, 12:27:58 AM »
Yes saw that on the news. Death toll at 367 and rising.... At least the Red Cross was there quickly...

?? ?? ?? ??

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Offline Taylor3006

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #37 on: September 26, 2013, 01:01:54 AM »
(insert innocent look with smirk here)
"Can our form of government, our system of justice, survive if one can be denied a FREEDOM because he might abuse it?"    Harlan Carter

Offline Cylon

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #38 on: September 26, 2013, 02:01:32 AM »
Shhhhhhhhh.....   Everyone knows that the deers in Texas live in cool caves......   Texas is hot, humid and a death trap for the unwary. Every poisonous insect and reptile known to man lives here and recently many deaths due to cuperacha (however its spelt). Land is expensive, jobs scarce, and food is in short supply. Mexican drug gangs routinely cross the border and slaughter entire towns of people. That why Brownsville no longer exsists. Rumor has it that what little water remains in the state, is radioactive now.....

Around here (Western Australia) we call that type of stuff "Thursday".

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #39 on: September 26, 2013, 06:39:47 AM »
I guess we will find out, if the grid drops.

If the grid drops and then 51% of the population in the south subsequently drops dead because of the heat, I'll put an apology in this thread.

If the grid ever comes back up again...


Offline konaexpress

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #40 on: September 26, 2013, 08:01:39 AM »
LOL

This is where I used to live in SE Texas.



Now I'm up in the hills of NE Texas, same 100'+ pines plus hardwoods.  Never lived in the desert.

~TG

This kind of reminds me of Oklahoma........(shudder)

Crazy water moccasins..........

John

Offline konaexpress

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #41 on: September 26, 2013, 08:05:47 AM »
Did you watch the video?  That is the part of Texas I live in.  Plenty of grass, wildlife, and yes, we have armadillos just for Kona.

Used to trip over those dang things walking home at night.....stupid things.

John

Offline OutWestTX

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #42 on: September 26, 2013, 11:48:25 AM »
Rumor has it that what little water remains in the state, is radioactive now.....

Funny you should mention it.  The water really IS radioactive here.  The county sends out notices every month as required by the Feds to remind us that the water is radioactive.  Since people here regularly live to be 100+ I figure it is a good thing. 
It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.

Offline konaexpress

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #43 on: September 26, 2013, 12:22:18 PM »
Funny you should mention it.  The water really IS radioactive here.  The county sends out notices every month as required by the Feds to remind us that the water is radioactive.  Since people here regularly live to be 100+ I figure it is a good thing.

Is this true? About the water?

John

Offline Cedar

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Offline konaexpress

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #45 on: September 26, 2013, 02:09:06 PM »
Sorry but have to scratch my big Polish head on this one.

John

Offline OutWestTX

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #46 on: September 26, 2013, 02:25:30 PM »
The radiation is naturally occuring from the uranium,radium and iridium in the soil.  It isn't quite the same as sitting atop Chernobyl.  People here live a very long time so I am not worried about it. 
It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.

Offline konaexpress

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #47 on: September 26, 2013, 02:28:48 PM »
I was stationed in Kaleen for a while and never heard this before but OK.

John

Offline infosec

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #48 on: September 26, 2013, 03:05:40 PM »
Woah - was about to post but the Texas drinking water being radioactive distracted me...

In any case, I wanted to chime in on the topic of what I have learned over the past couple of years regarding potential grid attack scenarios from a cyber-attack...

I do know that many of us receive pamphlets telling us about the amazing upgrades to the "smart grid" and how detailed their reports can be showing us usage and all that jazz.  I do have some experience closely working with folks involved with smart meter technology, as the local government I work for also incorporates automated meter reading.  In one sense, it is a good thing from the perspective that I would not want to have to walk door to door reading meters, fighting dogs, getting bitten, getting threatened, etc. from customers that do not want to pay their bills.  So I think it is easy to see how a corporation would find this an extremely attractive technology, as it means less paychecks to pay, less risk of on the job injury law suits against the company, etc... basically less cost. 

I also know that some of the chips in these meters have been reverse-engineered by security researchers.  I will leave it up to those wishing to learn more to google something like "smart meter vulnerabilities" or something along those lines if you need substantiation of that.  It is not very easy (read "expensive") to put flexible encryption technologies into something that is going to be produced at the levels for which every customer gets one.  So, more likely than not, is that there is some level of encryption sort of hard-coded into these meters (God I hope so).  Think of it as a password that is stored on a chip, that is used to scramble the data before sending your meter's value up to the company.  It also requires that the "password" be used to receive a command, such as "this guy didn't pay his bill, disconnect him."  If any of us are on smart meters, at least here, the power can be shut off remotely.  However, it seems to take sending someone in a truck to turn it back on.  And of course, you get a nice "reconnect fee" for them doing so.  So if we are to hypothesize that someone, either through reverse engineering the chip, or some other method (like a disgruntled former employee of the power company disclosing it), gains access to the key, I would believe that there is little to stop them from being able to reproduce the same type of network activity that issues the command to a person's meter to shut down the power.  If it takes a person visiting the meter to be able to turn service back on, then I believe we can plausibly envision the possibility that such an attacker would be able to issue the same commands to many meters, and they will be able to turn them off faster than they can be turned on.  That is a resource war, the resource being time, and the attacker has a big advantage.

It gets worse from there, however.  As I read headlines like SC Magazine's article titled "Report: Army database housing sensitive data on major U.S. dams breached" and the like, I feel safe concluding that there is plenty of interest by other nations to possess the capability to disrupt, if not cripple, our infrastructure.  There is a general consensus in this industry that the reality is not whether a given organization has been infiltrated via cyber-espionage, it is a question of who is aware of their presence and who is oblivious to their presence.  Additionally, many organizations are full of folks that do not know how to protect their systems, and the day to day operations of utilities and getting things up and running will continue to take precedence over prioritizing the security of these systems. 

The first article that I read demonstrating that actual physical damage was performed via a cyber attack was where some non-elite individual guessed a three-letter password to a system controlling water pumps in Springfield, IL was attached to the internet.  The person sat there turning the pump on and off until it failed.  Then I came across information indicating that South Houston's water system had been compromised as well.  We also have the US engaging in such items as Stuxnet to attack Iran's nuclear program, which sort of sets the stage to say "well we're doing it, why can't these other countries do it as well."  And then things evolve a little further like the creation of the Shodan search engine, which is like google for hackers but lets you identify many of these systems (which I may at times refer to as "Critical Infrastructure" meaning Water, Power, Oil and Gas equipment - that sort of thing) that are connected to the public internet.  I think that is sufficient to establish that the threat exists and our adversaries are actively pursuing this capability if not already possessed. 

We also need to examine the thought that many of these meters will become aged, and the manufacturers almost definitely provided a capability to "update" or "upgrade" the firmware on these meters.  I can't imagine any company would put themselves in a position of risk that, if there was some big fault in the system that required an update or upgrade to the software running on these meters, that the only way to get it done would be to either replace them all or visit them all to upgrade them.  Many printers, home routers, etc. also have this capability, where we can write new code to these devices.  This is where I see the potential for some of the most damaging situations with respect to the power grid.  If that same person that gains access to the system is able to write firmware to the meter, if just to brick it (doesn't have to be valid firmware, just enough to render it inoperable), that means that this device also loses any of the remote administration that the power company can use, even if they had the capability to turn them back on remotely.  There is a lot of active research taking place into compromising devices with custom firmware, such as printers.  There is a kid at Columbia university that did a great job demonstrating this with HP printers where they basically turned the printer into a computer under their control (and a platform to scan for other machines to attack from inside a companies firewall), just by enticing someone to print a PDF document containing information that the printer recognizes as a firmware update (think of HR printing up resumes from potential candidates).  So, imagine a case where someone issues a sweeping command across the entire power company to disconnect power and brick the meters.  The only way to bring them back up would be to visit each one, but the power companies would have gotten rid of much of the field force to do this long ago when they decided to save money on smart grid technology.  That is a long-term grid down that I believe is quite plausible without being a tin-foil-hatter. 

Now, to help shed light on the likelihood of this scenario, I have to always fall back on the people, as people are always the weakest link in security.  While some organizations use things that filter some web traffic so their employees aren't surfing porn all day - there are plenty of ways to get your machines compromised from perfectly legitimate sites, as recent news has shown with sites like NYTimes and such.  I don't think it is too far of a stretch for the imagination to suspect that a power company employee might happen to be permitted to visit and would want to visit a site to catch up on news now and then.  Or, perhaps around Christmas folks start opening e-mail attachments claiming to be some FedEx shipping notification about a shipment that someone might just think that they have a package they missed.  It is easy for these people to get attacked en masse, and even easier for these folks to get compromised when targeted, such as if I look up some background information on LinkedIn and find out who reports to who, what organizations folks affiliate with, etc. and then craft a targeted e-mail to those individuals in the hopes that one might happen to think "Gee! I haven't heard anything from that person in a long time, I wonder what this is about..."  Another, possibly more relevant example would be, and I apologize to Jack for using this example, to think about what percentage of folks on this forum would open up an attachment that is spoofed to look like it came from Jack with a special discount on silver/seeds/ammo/batteries...  That targeted attack is an example of the term "Spearphishing" for those not familiar with it, and has been and continues to be a very effective means of gaining access to an organization. 

So, on the likelihood of a grid down scenario due to cyber-espionage... I think it is and already has been in development.  The bad guys are tuned in to the status quo operation of organizations so much to the point where they are executing much more clever stuff like "supply chain attacks" - where some little piece of equipment or code to allow covert access to a device over the internet is being placed in devices as they are being manufactured, and these devices are sold with them built-in.  Or another example (look up Barclay's bank) where someone dressed up like an IT guy comes in with a piece of equipment that they hook up to a bank's system and have remote control.  I believe that there was a big concern with a supply chain example when someone like Cisco or some big networking company was purchasing another and they were worried about Huwaei's equipment (which had backdoors coded into them) were going to be acquired through the merger.  I'd have to look that up so please forgive any inaccuracies as all of this is coming off the top of my head.  The same could be true for the smart meters, but even if it isn't a supply chain attack, I believe that the examples given above will show plausible scenarios that can easily demonstrate how the bad guys *could* get into a power company and the capability to execute the attacks I've described above.  Also consider the fact that this could also happen to a pressurized LP gas line somewhere, where someone could shut that one valve down, or even just start hitting switches to see what happens.  There was a case where a computer operator made an error and accidentally spun up one of the turbines of a hydroelectric dam that was not operational yet.  If I recall correctly, the turbine spun up, lifted into the air a good distance, and came down on the others, destroying some of the other turbines.  That was just an accident, but there is nothing to say that someone with malicious intent and the ability to compromise an individual like that poor dude could not do at least the same, if not more, damage. 

Offline Fixit

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #49 on: September 26, 2013, 03:24:56 PM »
This people dropping dead in the heat makes me laugh. It is all what you get use to. Today my mother who is 72 is canning In an off grid home ,using a wood cookstove . This is in southern middle Tennessee . She does this year around it doesn't matter if it is 20 degrees or a 105 degrees . The people who will drop dead are people who live there lives in ACed homes and businesses and that drive around in air conditioned cars. All they know about heat is the walk from one to the other. Personally I think that while some will die of the heat . Many more will not be able to function without their electronics . They will just sit there waiting for someone to do something. Not knowing that they are that someone.

Offline OutWestTX

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #50 on: September 26, 2013, 08:36:18 PM »
Infosec, since the public utilities are connected to the internet then it is possible to hack them.  Did you see the problem they had at the NYSE?  Some people said it was sabatoge.  Could a foreign hacker pull something off where they shut down the electric grid via the internet?  Aren't there failsafes in place that would stop it? 

We don't have "smart meters" where I live and my place will be fully off the grid soon so I am not really worried about my house.  What concerns me is the ability of a foreign enemy being able to sabatoge the electric grid and cause the same damage as an EMP.  How likely is that?

What is your opinion of the Gridex2013 drill? 
It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.

Offline backwoods_engineer

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #51 on: September 26, 2013, 09:28:25 PM »
This people dropping dead in the heat makes me laugh. It is all what you get use to. Today my mother who is 72 is canning In an off grid home ,using a wood cookstove . This is in southern middle Tennessee . She does this year around it doesn't matter if it is 20 degrees or a 105 degrees . The people who will drop dead are people who live there lives in ACed homes and businesses and that drive around in air conditioned cars. All they know about heat is the walk from one to the other. Personally I think that while some will die of the heat . Many more will not be able to function without their electronics . They will just sit there waiting for someone to do something. Not knowing that they are that someone.

Go ahead and laugh then.   A lot of your neighbors will be dying if the grid drops in the heat.  Maybe some of your own family.  Will you care then?

Offline backwoods_engineer

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #52 on: September 26, 2013, 09:33:02 PM »
If the grid drops and then 51% of the population in the south subsequently drops dead because of the heat, I'll put an apology in this thread.

If the grid ever comes back up again...

Really.  How big of you.

What is it about people dying without air conditioning that is so controversial?

Offline OutWestTX

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #53 on: September 26, 2013, 10:01:02 PM »
Geez, first of all, my family is all Amish/Mennonite and already living without AC so they aren't going to drop dead.  LOL 

I posted my original comment because I consider it a common misconception held by people who live up north.  Invariably, they are the ones who post it over and over.   People who live in the south and southwest like to joke about how northerns think we are all going to keel over. 

Consider this....when Chicago or some other northern city has a heat wave, lots of people die.  When Austin or Phoenix have a heat wave, not much happens.  Why do you think it will be different if the grid were to go down?
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Offline konaexpress

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #54 on: September 26, 2013, 11:08:22 PM »
Geez, first of all, my family is all Amish/Mennonite and already living without AC so they aren't going to drop dead.  LOL 

I posted my original comment because I consider it a common misconception held by people who live up north.  Invariably, they are the ones who post it over and over.   People who live in the south and southwest like to joke about how northerns think we are all going to keel over. 

Consider this....when Chicago or some other northern city has a heat wave, lots of people die.  When Austin or Phoenix have a heat wave, not much happens.  Why do you think it will be different if the grid were to go down?

Good point.

John

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #55 on: September 27, 2013, 09:52:29 AM »
Really.  How big of you.

What is it about people dying without air conditioning that is so controversial?

Again and for the last time, with extremes in temperature deaths will occur that are directly related, especially in cases of those with failing health. I have no problem with stating that is a fact and it is a tragedy.

My problem is with the hyperbole often used about this subject.


Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: GridEx 2013
« Reply #56 on: September 27, 2013, 11:15:00 AM »
This thread is so far off track that I'm locking it.

F_M
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