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Has Israel Found The Answer To Grid Threats?

Image source: Reuters

Image source: Reuters

Israel built an “Iron Dome” to thwart rocket attacks — and now has unveiled an “information dome” to stop cyber-attacks on the power grid and other essential infrastructure.

Perhaps America should take note.

Like the Iron Dome, the so-called Information Grid “dome” is designed with specific capabilities to issue commands when threats to the command and control system in the power grid are detected.

The Israel Electric Company (IEC) late last year unveiled its Information Grid system, which is designed to keep a watchful eye on the flow of electricity to make sure nothing is amiss with the country’s electricity.

It allows for real-time control using thousands of sensors installed at hundreds of different locations in Israel. The sensors measure a plethora of data flowing into the Information Grid – and react instantly.

In Israel, when a cyber-attack is detected, or any unusual change in the routine flow of electricity is discovered, the power grid will automatically close connections to the compromised segment of the system or substation, the Times of Israel reported.

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The Information Grid was created by security experts working with mPrest Systems developers – the same company helped create the Iron Dome technology, the newspaper said.

Eugene Kaspersky, a cyber-attack expert and owner of a cyber-security firm that bears his name, said computer hackers are routinely using their skills to steal money, and he added that cyber sabotage of critical infrastructure, like power grids, is a “major threat” to governments around the world.

Kaspersky counts the discovery of the Stuxnet malware virus of 2012 among his accomplishments. The computer virus attacked nuclear facilities in Iran by infiltrating the programmable logic control automation systems.

But such viruses are only growing in number, he said, and can easily attack “automated low-level computer systems that control machinery, transportation systems, gas stations, utility systems, security installations – and electrical grids,” the newspaper reported.

“We’ve seen numerous cases of attacks on industrial infrastructure – Stuxnet was far from the only one,” Kaspersky said. “There is an international army consisting of tens of thousands of engineers out there developing SCADA malware. One day, a terrorist organization is going to get the bright idea to acquire one of these tools and deploy it to make their ideological point. If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s just a matter of time until it does.”

In the wake of NSA Director Michael Rogers telling the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that China “and one or two more” nation states are capable of taking down the power grid in America, perhaps our new Congress should consider a similar project in America. It is estimated that millions of American would die within the initial weeks of a downed grid – and that two-thirds of the population would perish after a year.

“Hezbollah-style terrorism and Grad missile attacks are out; cyber-attacks are in,” Israel Electric Company Board of Directors Chairman Yiftach Ron-Tal said. “We are getting hit with tens of thousands of penetration attempts daily, hundreds of thousands monthly. The world, the state of Israel and the electricity sector are in an era where cybernetic threats on communication infrastructures are ever increasing.”

Should the United States spend the money to develop a system similar to Israel’s? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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