[p2p-research] Slashdot | Massive Power Outages In Brazil Caused By Hackers

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Mon Nov 9 17:09:55 CET 2009

"CBS reports on 60 minutes that a massive two-day power outage in Brazil's 
Espirito Santo State affecting more than three million people in 2007, and 
another, smaller event in three cities north of Rio de Janeiro in January 
2005, were perpetrated by hackers manipulating control systems. Former Chief 
of US National Intelligence Retired Adm. Mike McConnell says that the 
'United States is not prepared for such an attack' and believes it could 
happen in America. 'If I were an attacker and wanted to do strategic damage 
to the United States, I would either take the cold of winter or the heat of 
summer,' says McConnell, 'I would probably sack electric power on the US 
East Coast, maybe the West Coast and attempt to cause a cascading effect.' 
Congressman Jim Langevin says that US power companies need to be forced to 
deal with the issue after they told Congress they would take steps to defend 
their operations but did not follow up. 'They admit that they misled 
Congress. The private sector has different priorities than we do in 
providing security. Their bottom line is about profits,' says Langevin. 'We 
need to change their motivation so that when see vulnerability like this, we 
can require them to fix it.' McConnell adds that a similar attack to the one 
in Brazil is poised to take place on US soil and that it may take some 
horrific event to get the country focused on shoring up cyber security. 'If 
the power grid was taken off line in the middle of winter and it caused 
people to suffer and die, that would galvanize the nation. I hope we don't 
get there.'"

What's important here from a p2p perspective is the phrase: "The private 
sector has different priorities than we do in providing security."

That's one reason I think P2P-related ideas can ultimately gain acceptance 
as the security high ground, by being more intrinsically secure and more 
mutually secure, using distributed systems not designed to maximize the 
profit potential for a few with concentrated ownership. So, if almost 
everyone can produce their own local renewable energy with rooftop solar 
panels, the community is intrinsically more secure.

--Paul Fernhout

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