The Power Grid. Is it as bad as we thought?

The Power Grid. Is it as bad as we thought?

 

On Facebook, Freya shared this link.

Iranian Hackers Have Been ‘Password-Spraying’ the US Grid  

And it got a few likes and it got 1 comment. My brother. He wrote in is normal manner:

Alisdair’s thoughts on this.

Can confirm. And given the several years I spent working on grid cybersecurity, I can only offer this advice:

Invest in kerosene lanterns and solar ovens. The US electrical grid is in abysmal shape when it comes to security.

While the larger players in the space are eyed constantly by NERC and FERC and held to fairly rigid standards, they aren’t the problem. It’s the small, regional operators. The local electric co-ops and what not. People think these are not a priority target.

Guess again.

There is no such thing as a ‘non-priority target’ when it comes to the grid. Because of a little thing called a supply-chain attack.

If I, as a Bad Guy, can compromise a small electric co-op in, say, upstate New York, it is highly likely that my attack can then pivot to another operator. See, many of them have set up trust relationships between their networks in order to remain competitive against the Big Operators. If I compromise one of those networks, I now likely have a backdoor into several more.

This alone is worrisome. It means that I can now trip part of a regional grid. This, as we know, can have huge cascading effects if I do this at a period of heavy load on the grid. Hell, in the 90s a friggin SQUIRREL caused a huge blackout on the eastern seaboard.

But let’s consider that supply chain. Chances are also very likely that this co-op fraternity I’ve compromised has at least a few network connections to other, larger regional collectives as well. And some of them? They probably have some connections to the Big Boys like Duke, or MISO, or PJM. If I can actively exploit one, just one, security hole in their networks… people can die. That’s not even counting other things like infrastructure destruction, financial damage, and so on.

It is coming. The December 2015 attacks in Ukraine were, quite literally, the Russians testing some of their attacks against a grid that, while mostly older and outdated, was still based on the American system. They learned a lot.

So. Kerosene stoves, lanterns, stored water. All that good stuff.

So I started looking.

Fox blows transformer at Fort Huachuca

Fear the Squirrel: How Wildlife Causes Major Power Outages

JEA suspects animal caused power outage

Power restored after animal contact causes widespread outage in east end, Toronto Hydro says

Snakes, raccoons and bird attacks, oh my! TransGard tracks animal-caused power outages

That is just a few.

Look, I am not coming down on the lineman. Those brave souls that risk it all to keep the power on. I’ll reserve that for the companies trying to make a quick buck and use 50 year old equipment. My neighborhood here in South Carolina, was built in the 1960s. It is a REGULAR occurrence to have power go out because SOME ONE TURNED ON THEIR WELDER.

Back at the ranch.

Cyber attacks. We KNOW the Russians are not going to send battalions of attack Squirrels to disable the power grid, (Ve are searching for Moose and Squirrel) They are going to do it with a keyboard. There is proof. As my brother pointed out the Russians have tried out their atacks in the Ukraine.

The US Government is trying. One thing is by using updated “retro” technology. Can you say manual switches and analog instruments? The older power grids are what we call legacy. They were built pre-internet and were never designed to be connected to the internet. Here is the article from Forbes, U.S. Government Makes Surprise Move To Secure Power Grid From Cyberattacks .

So, that helps the older companies. What about the newer that are interconnected? The older ones that are haphazardly connected? What do we do about that?

Well, my little brother spelled it out:

Invest in kerosene lanterns and solar ovens and stored water. All that good stuff.

This is what WE are good at.

Life with out power is not easy. The average person can not store enough fuel to run a generator forever. OK I tried the methane digester to fuel a genny. and it works but it is difficult. So, long term generator power is out. That leaves solar, water, and wind to power our homes.

Do you HAVE to have electricity? The short answer is no. The longer one is, “Well it would make a lot of things much easier.”

Food storage. Electricity has made our food storage a SNAP!  Buy food. Put it in the fridge, BOOM stored and safe. Ummmm… what if there is no electricity?

Power solutions?

Wind generators. most put out between 100 to 1000 watts. Sounds like a bunch of power. But that is all used to charge the battery bank. A fridge uses about 800 watts a day. Every day.

The same goes for solar and water. Solar is the easiest since there are no moving parts. You still need power inverters and batteries. For the average prepper like me and you, we do not have the thousands of bucks needed to get it off the ground.

Preserving your food.

We as a civilization stored foods for thousands of years. And no matter what people say. Food on Little House on the Prairie SUCKED. Why do you think  HJ Heinz invented Ketchup? To mask the taste of rancid beef!
But we don’t have to go to the lengths of Henry Heinz to “mask” rancid food. Lets have NON rancid food!  There are techniques that work to preserve food.

First, Canning. Yup, I’m a guy. Combat vet and medic. Motocross racer and all sorts of man stuff on my resume. But one that isn’t listed. I can. I can meat fish vegetables. You name it. I can it. Why? Well, my grandmother taught me. And I’ve taught my wife and kids. I could write down the steps. But there are professionals for that. One is the Ball Book of Canning and Preserving. Follow the instructions and your foods will come out tasty and safe.

Canners

A good entry level canner. I own one and have used it for years before an accident caused a loss of it and a lot of other property. The Presto 23 quart canner. It is not an All American 921. Which we had and lost also. But it is serviceable works very well and with car will last for years. Don’t forget jars and lids. Since we are prepping for the gods know what why buy lids that are one time use. We went to Tattler lids. They are reusable. Not cheap but they can be used over and over where tin lids are once. If your good twice.

Lighting the home.

We all turn to Kerosene lamps. I love em. And have lots of them. Downsides they smell a bit and need maintenance. Kerosene right now is plentiful. But, will it stay that way? The good thing about Kerosene is that it stores much better than gasoline.  The rule of thumb for lamps is about 1/2 ounce of oil per hour. A gallon should last about 280 to 300 hours.  Figure on 2.5 gallons a month. Or, 30 gallons of oil for a year of light.

Now, my calculations is based on 24 hours burn time. Also, that is for 1 lamp. But, it isn’t dark here 24 hours a day in the lower 48.  (Thank the gods!!! Alaska is a different story!) In reality you could run 4 lamps 5 hours a day on the same fuel. Oil lamps can also burn most vegetable oils and animal oils. But, they will smell not as good.

Wicks

You can buy oil lamp wicks from Amazon. That link will get you about 12 feet of 3/4 inch wick for 7 bucks. Cheap enough to buy a bunch for just in case. How about making wicks? We did it long before we had electricity. Wicks were made at home from canvas. It took a while to find the method but I found a YouTube video on doing it. This man here makes wicks from artist canvas. Making a lamp wick part 1   And Making a lamp wick part 2   And Making a lamp wick part 3.  I think any canvas without sizing will work well.

I think I’ll stop here. This is getting long and there is SO much to add.  Freya and I will have more on this topic. We may be needing it.

 

Bjarni

 

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