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Chinese Researcher Says US Power Grid Is Vulnerable, Strategist Overreacts

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the what-color-is-his-hat dept.

Government 203

An anonymous reader writes with a story about Wang Jianwei, a grad student in China who recently released a paper detailing a vulnerability in the US power grid. Despite the paper being rather typical for security research, its origin set off alarm bells for military strategist Larry M. Wortzel, who testified before Congress that the student was a threat, despite the fact that the published attack wasn't really feasible. Quoting: "'We usually say "attack" so you can see what would happen,' [Wang] said. 'My emphasis is on how you can protect this. My goal is to find a solution to make the network safer and better protected.' And independent American scientists who read his paper said it was true: Mr. Wang's work was a conventional technical exercise that in no way could be used to take down a power grid. The difference between Mr. Wang's explanation and Mr. Wortzel’s conclusion is of more than academic interest. It shows that in an atmosphere already charged with hostility between the United States and China over cybersecurity issues, including large-scale attacks on computer networks, even a misunderstanding has the potential to escalate tension and set off an overreaction. 'Already people are interpreting this as demonstrating some kind of interest that China would have in disrupting the US power grid,' said Nart Villeneuve, a researcher with the SecDev Group, an Ottawa-based cybersecurity research and consulting group."

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203 comments

Still doesn't make it a non-threat. (0, Flamebait)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557054)

It doesn't change that the particular individual(Wang) and his home country(China) are threats.

And independent American scientists who read his paper said it was true: Mr. Wang's work was a conventional technical exercise that in no way could be used to take down a power grid

That presumes none of them were on China's side or favored China in any way.

Re:Still doesn't make it a non-threat. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557098)

OMG, US hegemony is faltering. Your ego takes a hit. What's next? How do you plan to funnel this frustration about china's success? I hope not violence. Buck up Cheeko. Stop whining, ni xue putonghua danshi will be left behind.

WHIP EM OUT !! BIGGEST ONE WINS !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557596)

Let us see the one with the BIGGGGGEST NUKE !!

That will be the winner !!

Collect all your bases that are belong to us, and GO HOME !!

THEN NUKEM BEFORE THEY NUKE YOU !!

Love it when it all makes sense !!

Re:WHIP EM OUT !! BIGGEST ONE WINS !! (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557648)

So Russia [wikipedia.org] , then?

WORKING NUKES, NOT DYSFUNCTONAL NUKES !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557734)

RU nukes are like Smiling Bob !!

Re:WHIP EM OUT !! BIGGEST ONE WINS !! (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557726)

If only they had finished Duke Nukem Forever.

Re:WHIP EM OUT !! BIGGEST ONE WINS !! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557904)

Whichever country has the "biggest" nuke or even the largest supply of nukes is irrelevant. It only takes a single nuke to completely ruin your day.

Aside from that, this is yet more proof that the terrorists have won. When American people are so skittish, paranoid and scared like this Wortzel fool, there is no other conclusion that can be drawn.

Re:Still doesn't make it a non-threat. (3, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557886)

I would say that it's not only the US power grid that's vulnerable. It's power grids and users all over the world that are vulnerable to threats.

  • Large exposure - often in inaccessible terrain.
  • Key points in rural areas with little protection.
  • Very visible installations makes them easy to map.
  • Number of persons knowing the large scale circuits in their head are few.
  • Societies highly dependent on electrical power.
  • Availability of material (especially large transformers) and competence for repairs of major lines are limited.
  • Alternate routes may already be running at maximum capacity.

So I would say that the report hardly surprises me. Coordinated attacks on power lines in areas hard to access in a part of a country and then a follow up with some anti-aircraft weapons to take down the maintenance helicopters and you have a big problem. Take out a number of transformers and you can really sit back and see that those oddballs insisting on collecting firewood are the survivors while the rest are running around in circles. Especially tough in the middle of the winter.

Secondary effects of a prolonged power outage would be telecom breakdowns, water and sewage plant failures, failure to get fuels for vehicles etc. Those are just the direct and obvious effects. The economy would be taking a major hit at the same time.

Just figure out if there were a coordinated attack that cut off electricity to many major cities at the same time. It would make what happened in New Orleans when Katrina had struck just an exercise.

Re:Still doesn't make it a non-threat. (4, Funny)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557106)

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain

Re:Still doesn't make it a non-threat. (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557170)

Those who pray for electric power in the deep blackout shall bring forth the thunderbolts!

Re:Still doesn't make it a non-threat. (2, Funny)

pseudofrog (570061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557174)

Citation needed

Re:Still doesn't make it a non-threat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557920)

http://www.amazon.com/Dune-40th-Anniversary-Chronicles-Book/dp/0441013597/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269186804&sr=8-1

Re:Still doesn't make it a non-threat. (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557260)

Isn't that from that movie where Sting proved he couldn't act? No, not that one, the other one ... yeah, that's it, Dune.

Re:Still doesn't make it a non-threat. (1)

JerkBoB (7130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557526)

Oy WILL kill yew!

He's probably just being proactive. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557112)

Look, I know it's easy for people to think he's planning an "attack", but I think he's just trying to be proactive.

Being Chinese, he no doubt craves video games, online MMORPGs and anime to a level that a Westerner just can't understand. Just put yourself in his shoes for a moment. Could you really go 30 minutes, or maybe even an hour, without playing some Wii or playing WoW or seeing some tentacle rape? No, you probably couldn't. So you'd do everything you possibly can to ensure that you have electricity 100% of the time, even if that meant thinking about unrealistic scenarios and writing reports about them.

Re:He's probably just being proactive. (3, Funny)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557588)

I am just surprised at the lack of Wang jokes all this time :)

It would be better (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557060)

for the US Govt to give this kid a job, rather than letting the chinese use his talents.

(Or some other 3rd party like Iran)

...in a controlled environment like GTMO. (-1, Troll)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557088)

As long as he doesn't threaten US citizens, fine. GTMO is perfect for that purpose.

(cue modbombing in 3,2,1)

What is it with you filthy Republicans? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557128)

Seriously, what is it with you Republicans? Why are you so hell-bent on torturing people? Why do you want to electrocute people's genitals? Why do you want to let your dogs chew on people's genitals? Why do you always focus on torturing people's genitals? Why do you want to torture people's genitals in Cuba, of all places? Why? It's just so confusing.

Re:What is it with you filthy Republicans? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557242)

Seriously, what is it with you Republicans? Why are you so hell-bent on torturing people? Why do you want to electrocute people's genitals? Why do you want to let your dogs chew on people's genitals? Why do you always focus on torturing people's genitals? Why do you want to torture people's genitals in Cuba, of all places? Why? It's just so confusing.

Why do you hate America?

Re:It would be better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557578)

Sure invite for Chinese nationals into the US where they can access sensitive information and readily transmit it back the the homeland. Not like the Chinese have not already done such things to the US.

Couldn't Happen (5, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557064)

The biggest mistake he made in his paper was the assumption that Homer still works at Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Clearly China is several seasons behind in their 'research'.

Re:Couldn't Happen (5, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557386)

The biggest mistake he made in his paper was the assumption that Homer still works at Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Clearly China is several seasons behind in their 'research'.

The biggest mistake we made was that we actually still have Montgomery Burns running our power plants, and people like him running our national infrastructure. Which was this guy's point: There is in fact a systemic flaw in capitalism -- adding security decreases profitability, therefore security is rarely focused on even in applications that are critical to a country's well-being. The soviets published a report in the mid 80s detailing key areas in our national infastructure that lack redundant power pathways. If about 5% of our infrastructure were destroyed in key areas, about 45% of the grid would be inoperable.

That's simply unacceptable.

Re:Couldn't Happen (2, Interesting)

CBravo (35450) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557752)

since you guys beat the Russians financially I think that is debatable.

Re:Couldn't Happen (3, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557824)

since you guys beat the Russians financially I think that is debatable.

We didn't beat them financially. They imploded with a coup de etat. It was an internal affair that the US intelligence community later took credit for orchestrating. Which is part bullshit because if it hadn't have had the support of people within the former Soviet Union to begin with, it never would have succeeded. And I question that we "beat them financially" -- because we've lost in a lot of other areas. International opinion of our country, social services, and other domestic areas. There are large tracts of land in our country that resemble third-world countries economically. Our wealth distribution model is one of the most unbalanced in the world, and we have an entire generation being slaved to the lifestyles of those who are increasingly unable to contribute anything but advice and financial services and rapidly approaching retirement, which will further drain the future of our country, reducing our economic powerbase and status as a world leader.

We won? Hardly.

Tea Party Commies (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557908)

Tea comes from China, maybe those Tea Partiers are mere commie puppets!

Re:Couldn't Happen (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557870)

So how does having your whole infrastructure go down result in better profits? Your conclusion seems flawed here. Security does in fact fit with capitalism because time is money and if the system goes down for any length of time, money is lost.

The danger is allowing Marxists to run important infrastructure because they won't loose money when the grid goes down.

Re:Couldn't Happen (1)

alexhs (877055) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557448)

Well, maybe inbetweening [wikipedia.org] is done in China now ? (it has already been done in South Korea [wikipedia.org] )

In which case, maybe are YOU a few seasons behind ;)

typical military response (5, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557076)

Yes, it would've been much better for this guy not to publish his research so we wouldn't know about this problem and leave it wide open. We should be thanking this man for his hard work, not lambasting him just because he happens to be Chinese.

If the Chinese government were interested in disrupting our power systems, wouldn't they be a little more secretive about their intentions than shouting out our flaws to all the world?

Re:typical military response (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557244)

From TFA:

Mr. Wang’s work was a conventional technical exercise that in no way could be used to take down a power grid.

no practical scenarios of an attack on the real power grid can be derived from such work.

It doesn't sound like there is a problem per say, having not read his actual work, but it looks like he simply based his theoretical problem in the US because the base data set was the best maintained and he speaks English.

Re:typical military response (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557334)

Maybe the Chinese universities would be happy to take him, let him do his research and publish his stuff.

Just like the other researchers they are welcoming:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/18/business/global/18research.html [nytimes.com]

Re:typical military response (2, Informative)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557554)

Maybe the Chinese universities would be happy to take him, let him do his research and publish his stuff.

I understand that you didn't read the article, no one ever does, but to not read the summary? He's a Chinese Grad student at a Chinese university. They already let him do his research and publish his findings. The reason he didn't do it on China's grid is that they wont provide him with any data.

Re:typical military response (1)

skids (119237) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557394)

Case in point: the insane people who think it's dandy to use wireless technologies for intra-plant communications.

Like here [renewableenergyworld.com] .

Perfect setup for spectrum warfare.

Re:typical military response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557590)

bells for military strategist Larry M. Wortzel...the student was a threat

I just hope the House Foreign Affairs Committee don't get any ideas from these crazies talking to them. I guess the war against (t)error could have started this way as well.

Re:typical military response (5, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557788)

The problem is confirmation bias. The U.S. has been concerned that the Chinese are going to threaten U.S. security by using computers. When the U.S. found a paper written by a Chinese researcher that talked about using computers to attack the U.S. power system, they thought they found someone who was threatening U.S. security. In other words, when they found "evidence" that looked on the surface that it was what they were looking for, they jumped to the conclusion they had found it.

This is just the same as the "quote mining" we've seen from, say, intelligent design supporters who are continually on the lookout for evidence that evolution is wrong. It's also the reason that the hacked CLU emails are being misinterpreted to mean that AGW is a hoax. If you set out looking for evidence to support your idea, you need to make sure you also look for evidence that supports the opposite of your idea, and make sure you are interpreting the evidence you find correctly and neutrally.

Every power grid can be vulnerable (3, Informative)

simp (25997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557082)

If you want to build a power grid in country X right now, take a look at the vendors that supply the products. Then take a look a the vendors that supplied the products 10 or 20 years ago. The same dozen or so of vendors supply all the equipment from control room automation to the actual hardware to make and distribute power to everybody everywhere in the world.
If the US power grid can be hacked then so can most other power grids because you will find the same equipment and software over and over again.
It's a bit like the good old MAD during the cold war: sure you can hack my power grid, but I can also hack yours...

I'm also not sure how it's a big deal (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557238)

All power grids are always vulnerable to physical attack. There are few generation stations, relative to the number of customers and many large scale distribution lines. Take those out, and you've disabled power for a long time since they have to be rebuilt. A big, distributed, power grid like we have that does not have tons of excess capacity is just going to be at risk of having large parts taken off line by physical means. Ask anyone who lives in an area of heavy snow.

Now, I understand that an electronic attack could be done remotely, in theory without warning. Ok... To what end? In case people haven't noticed there's a big ole' swath of ocean between the US and China. So if China was to try that as a precursor at an attack, it wouldn't do any good. We'd either already know about the attack, having seen the ships on the way, or it would be way too early, since the ships would take a long time to get here, and it would be back up by the time they got here.

Not that any of that is very relevant to defense. It isn't like aircraft carriers are on the power grid, they've got their own nuclear reactors (2-4 of them in fact). You discover a good deal of important stuff has its own power backup since it isn't like power doesn't go out all the time anyhow. Hell we lose power to our building at work probalby 3-4 times per year, hence there's a generator on critical systems.

I just don't see how this sort of thing is that big a deal. Now please understand, I'm not saying we shouldn't try to secure it. When you find a security hole, you should fix it. Just a good idea over all so you don't have problems in the future. However I don't see it as being a military threat. I see it as being more of a script kiddie type of threat. Some asshole takes power out because they think it is funny. I don't see China trying to knock it out because I can't see how it would be useful, and it would have some rather large negative repercussions if they did and the US found out who was responsible.

Re:I'm also not sure how it's a big deal (4, Insightful)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557408)

It is a big deal because, timed correctly, you can cascade a failure and shut down a huge chunk of the grid. Maybe your building has a generator for critical systems, and it can run for 72 hours on its propane tank.

But can the next shift show up, if the trains aren't running? Traffic control is down?

How many hours can you last, with no food and possibly limited and no water? So your server room is running; who is there to man it?

Just talk to the people who weathered Andrew, Hugo and such. Having your own power backup does little good if you also don't have all of the people there to put it to use.

Anyway, this is clearly not a threat. It's a vulnerability, and should be addressed.

OTOH, the intelligence community has a different definition of "threat" from most people. A "threat" is what your opponent *could* do, not what they *intend* to do.

So the intelligence people analyze "threats" from Canada, UK, etc. Certainly UK or Canada are "threats" in that they have the location and/or the military might to cause the US significant damage. It has nothing to do with their "intent"; that's for the politicos to decide.

Re:I'm also not sure how it's a big deal (1)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557420)

Now, I understand that an electronic attack could be done remotely, in theory without warning. Ok... To what end?

You're kidding, right?

What better way to hurt our military capability long term, and harm US citizen morale, than to kill our economy for a long, long time? You can take out the power grid by messing with the power distribution system--by interfering with the synchronization of different power sources. The resulting explosions would take out large numbers of high-power lines, if not a majority of the power generator hardware itself. Imagine what ruining the majority of the power generators in the dams on the Columbia River would do to the entire West Coast.... The West Coast economy would come to a halt in very short order, and most of the people would be living in 3rd world conditions. No power == no lights, no refrigeration, no heating or cooling of buildings, no gas to run your car, no computers in other than places that have large power backup generators, etc.... It would be devestating.

Re:I'm also not sure how it's a big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557730)

That's what FEMA (and those inexistent camps) are there for. For when katrina-style subsidized refugees have nowhere left to run, er, disperse to. We appreciate your concern citizen. But stop fretting now, it's disloyal.

Re:I'm also not sure how it's a big deal (1)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557494)

So if China was to try that as a precursor at an attack, it wouldn't do any good. We'd either already know about the attack, having seen the ships on the way, or it would be way too early, since the ships would take a long time to get here, and it would be back up by the time they got here.

Suppose China disabled the USA's electrical grid via physical attack. There would chaos - transportation shuts down, cities run out of food, medicine, etc. China then sends large scale military force over as a "peace keeping mission" to help rebuild infrastructure. Peace keeping force turns into occupation.

You don't have to pre-position troops to attack and the attack can be hidden.

http://onesecondafter.com/

Re:I'm also not sure how it's a big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557798)

Suppose China disabled the USA's electrical grid via physical attack. There would chaos - transportation shuts down, cities run out of food, medicine, etc. China then sends large scale military force over as a "peace keeping mission" to help rebuild infrastructure. Peace keeping force turns into occupation.

You don't have to pre-position troops to attack and the attack can be hidden.

Dude, you've watched "Red Dawn" too many times.

Besides, if they tried that, the asteroid strike would catch 'em, just the same as us.

Re:I'm also not sure how it's a big deal (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557512)

Taking out the physical generation stations is actually expensive and difficult. The hard-on factor in a cyber attack is that it theoretically can be executed very cheaply. The US has spent a great deal on defense and would hate to see it bypassed by some sixteen year old with a CoCo2.

Re:I'm also not sure how it's a big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557858)

A big, distributed, power grid like we have that does not have tons of excess capacity is just going to be at risk of having large parts taken off line by physical means. Ask anyone who lives in an area of heavy snow.

North America does not have a distributed grid. At most, it may be decentralized (though C2 may probably be considered centralized for any one particular utility). A distributed grid would be closer to where lots of people have windmills, solar panels, etc, that fed into the grid, and where any node can feed / talk to any other node.

A decentralized grid is basically where we have multiple hubs and spokes. At most each of the hubs can speak to each other, but the spokes are screwed if their hub goes down. The generators feed into multiple hubs, so even if one station goes down, others can potentially take up the slack.

Here's a good illustration of the various terms as it pertains to communication networks:

http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_memoranda/RM3420/fig1.GIF

It's take from Paul Baran's RAND study that helped create the ARPAnet and Internet:

http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_memoranda/RM3420/

Why would they turn the lights off... (2, Insightful)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557086)

...to property they're going to legitimately own, thanks to the much slicker trick of rigging their currency exchange rate?

Re:Why would they turn the lights off... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557116)

Currency rigging ? Lots of countries have their currencies pegged to the US Dollar. No one seems to pick on them - just on the chinese.....

Guess it was ok when we wanted cheap stuff - and now the govt. does not want cheap stuff, but americans still do.

Re:Why would they turn the lights off... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557130)

everyone (stfu pedants) wants cheap stuff.

Re:Why would they turn the lights off... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557786)

Unfortunately, slavery isn't cheap. Never really was. And everyone is forced into minuscule loops of pusilanimous, avaricous, cowardly, petty-manipulative, lonely isolation and dependency. Souls, shrivel everywhere. For generations on end.

Re:Why would they turn the lights off... (2, Funny)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557134)

I thought you guys at Wal*Mart weren't allowed to use the store computers to surf the web?

Re:Why would they turn the lights off... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557176)

...but they only trigger if they're being used for destinations that support labor unions or disparage China.

Re:Why would they turn the lights off... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557348)

...to property they're going to legitimately own, thanks to the much slicker trick of rigging their currency exchange rate?

Well, just think of yourself as a caretaker. Hell, if you bought a house you don't really own it, not when your local government can and will take it away from you an instant if you don't pay your taxes. The essence of ownership is control, and we've already given that up to our own governments, and it looks like we'll eventually have to give it to China.

This is just silly, but no harm done. (2, Interesting)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557096)

I guess the profile of the Chinese being ultra-patriotic and always acting in the best interest of China, together with the nagging (alleged) cyber-sleuthing on US networks makes this behavior understandable, but he's overreacting. However, the situation Wortzel described could have been real, and there's no way for him to judge. The alert seems to have been canceled already, so problem solved. No black helicopters with identity-less elite commandos arriving in the night to slit the throat of an innocent geek, no.

Re:This is just silly, but no harm done. (2, Insightful)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557358)

And yet his name will probably live forever on a No Fly List. Still, no harm done to you anyway.

Re:This is just silly, but no harm done. (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557790)

True. I didn't consider that aspect of the issue. However, you'd think that people like this would be let in, but kept under constant surveillance. He's a Chinese academic after all, not a middle eastern terrorist suspect; I've always seen the no-fly list as being used solely against Arabian enemies and suspected sympathizers. A Chinese academic would be more of a problem for the counter-espionage, yes? Also, if he comes to the US, he's probably coming to work for a major corp (at least initially) which might mitigate such problems somewhat? Or am i ascribing actual competence and level-headed calculation to a system full of hysterical crazy?

The pro-China modbombers are out in force today. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557104)

Still doesn't make it a non-threat. (Score:-1, Flamebait)

Such interests are legitimate threats even if the paper itself is reviewed to be harmless.

Re:The pro-China modbombers are out in force today (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557192)

No, we dislike the Chinese and their shitty, shitty products very much. But we dislike cocksure Americans like you even more. That's why we mod you down.

Re:The pro-China modbombers are out in force today (5, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557222)

I really can't understand this way of thinking. It will probably get me modded down but I ask of you to think about this. What are you afraid of? every time I turn on the tv I see news from the US and every time it is about being scared or about why you should be scared and every time it turns out to be a lie. Why do you feel threatened by a person who is not born in the USA who tells you there is a flaw in your system and goes so far to even tell you all about that flaw.... I don't get it. I just don't get in, I'm sorry.

Re:The pro-China modbombers are out in force today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557270)

Disaster news sell.

Re:The pro-China modbombers are out in force today (4, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557294)

> Every time I turn on the tv I see news from the US and every time it is about being scared or about why you should be scared and every time it turns out to be a lie.

Because the USA is the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Re:The pro-China modbombers are out in force today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557882)

Every time I turn on the tv I see news from the US and every time it is about being scared or about why you should be scared and every time it turns out to be a lie.

Because the USA is the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And the terrorists hate freedom and bravery.

Re:The pro-China modbombers are out in force today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557916)

But also the land of the sheep and the home of the hens. Fortunately, you can chose what do you want to be.

Re:The pro-China modbombers are out in force today (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557594)

FTFA:

Mr. Wang’s work was a conventional technical exercise that in no way could be used to take down a power grid.

no practical scenarios of an attack on the real power grid can be derived from such work.

From what it sounds like the entire article is about him overreacting to a nonspecific, and in this case completely unworkable white paper. The news here is not that the US is vulnerable but that the people in charge of securing it are a little quick to fire off against anyone who undermines them even if they didn't.

Re:The pro-China modbombers are out in force today (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557712)

Although, that kind of lends credence to the idea that it's really not that secure....

Re:The pro-China modbombers are out in force today (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557654)

He's afraid of the ten-foot tall members of al Qaeda who can shoot lightning bolts out their fingers and fly. Duh.

And they obviously exist - why else would every Republican member of Congress shit their pants when the subject comes up?

Re:The pro-China modbombers are out in force today (4, Insightful)

Kumiorava (95318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557376)

The issue of vulnerable power grid is a legitimate threat, but the individual creating a study about it is not. You get it backwards when you say the individual is a threat and paper (or the vulnerability) might be harmless. A grad student won't have capability or interest in taking down US power grid, instances with capability to harm US power grid have also means to create similar study on their own. I'm sure even US military has created similar study and have planned on supplying electricity to critical locations without the electric grid.

There are many valid reasons why US electric grid was chosen to be target of the study. Creating similar risk analysis on Chinese electric grid could be a serious offense in China, or information about US electric grid was more available than any other major electric grid in the world. Most likely this student has interest in working at the electric grids and wants to help to build one that is more secure.

Scapegoating abounds and we all suffer (4, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557114)

From the liberal in the 1950s branded as a commie pinko, to the
19 year old with a 15 year old girlfriend branded as a pedophile, to the
Casual torrent downloader branded as the biggest threat to Hollywood ever, to the
Security researcher branded as an enemy of the state,

we all suffer when people are scapegoated so someone can get his time in front of a microphone.

Would someone please dig up J. Edgar Hoover's body and make sure he's still dead? Methinks his ghost never left us.

Re:Scapegoating abounds and we all suffer (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557190)

Would someone please dig up J. Edgar Hoover's body and make sure he's still dead? Methinks his ghost never left us.

We dug him up quite a while ago when we were trying to find Jimmy Hoffa's body. Now that we're no long contenders in the 'Find Jimmy Pool' we let him roam free. Our bad, sorry about that.

Re:Scapegoating abounds and we all suffer (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557202)

we all suffer when people are scapegoated so someone can get his time in front of a microphone.

Conversely, we all suffer when truly guilty persons are portrayed as innocent martyrs so some bleeding heart can get his time in front of a microphone.

Re:Scapegoating abounds and we all suffer (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557542)

Everyone is truly guilty of SOMETHING. That's just human nature.

Re:Scapegoating abounds and we all suffer (0, Flamebait)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557664)

Sorry, I don't buy that christian original sin bullshit.

Re:Scapegoating abounds and we all suffer (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557204)

True true. Your Hoover reference surprised me though; I really thought you'd be going with McCarthy on this one... :-)

Public security research is not a threat (5, Insightful)

Andrioid (1755390) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557182)

Public security research is not a threat. Vulnerable infrastructures that go unchecked are. The trend is to penalize security researchers for publishing their findings will only increase underground security research that will then just be sold to the highest bidder.

Responsible disclosure (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557208)

That ignores responsible disclosure completely.

21st cent security is a lot like 19th cent medicin (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557194)

Both are filled with more quackery than actual sound practices. There is very little difference between most "security experts" today and the snake oil peddlers who told the public that their 150 proof secret tonic could cure everything from whooping cough to "consumption."

The REAL Threat... (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557212)

is financial. There's no point maintaining a secure reliable grid if you can't afford to use it [denverpost.com] .

Larry M. Wortzel "overeacts" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557216)

Larry M. Wortzel "overreacts" because he needs something to justify his job, his pay, and this will get him some attention which could lead to bigger and better things. This will garner plenty of attention.

So much for living normally after 9/11! Enjoy the extra "security", taking your shoes off at the airport, having strangers rifle through your belongings, etc...etc...etc..

It makes many people feel safe!

Re:Larry M. Wortzel "overeacts" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557874)

I think they just like to be groped and harassed.

Unconsciously makes them relive those golden, 'better', days. School. Childhood. The absence of any real responsibility. Simple choices.

Hope you will forgive me the relative oversimplification of the matter.

Détente (3, Funny)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557224)

We'll just have one of our grad students publish a paper online on the vulnerability of your power grid and see how you like it! So there! Nyaah!

This has always been the problem with the U.S. (2, Insightful)

cyberkahn (398201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557256)

The U.S. is reactive and not proactive. The U.S. always has to wait until after the fact to admit that there was a threat. This is nothing new to me. Just read Unrestricted Warfare [c4i.org] . The Chinese have been stating this for years now. Yes everything will be fine until the lights go out.

Re:This has always been the problem with the U.S. (3, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557316)

Wow. As a European I must say, we have a different truth... The us reactive? I am very sorry, maybe in the US you think that, but I think the general public opinion about the US - worldwide - will think otherwise... Don't mean to offend you, just here to inform you :)

Re:This has always been the problem with the U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557364)

Not sure what you mean by "otherwise", but I guess it's something along the lines of "apatethic until something threatens to black out the TV screen". Then we whip out our knee-jerk routine.

Re:This has always been the problem with the U.S. (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557444)

Net to me the problem is, that such a comment is from an AC... I'm sure you have a real account here. Use it. I said something I knew was going to offend people, although I feel they should not be offended, but I don't use the AC option ;) But just that kind of behavior, is what is upsetting people about the US. It's true...

Re:This has always been the problem with the U.S. (1)

charlieo88 (658362) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557568)

"I said something I knew was going to offend people..."

Actually, what you said didn't so much offend as not make much sense in the context of the previous post. Let me show you.

Cyberkahn: "The U.S. is reactive and not proactive..."
santax: "...The us reactive? I am very sorry, maybe in the US you think that..."

So, are you trying to say that the U.S. IS proactive?

Re:This has always been the problem with the U.S. (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557610)

Well, to be honest, I think the US is very pro-active and when I am absolutely honest.... I even think that the invasion of Iraq has nothing to do with 9/11 but all with the former presidents personal cashflow. Now and in the future. I'm pretty sure he will die a wealthy man but I am not sure at all about the 'bring peace' part of his speech back in those days.

Re:This has always been the problem with the U.S. (1)

cyberkahn (398201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557422)

No, you don't offend me. I see where you are coming from due to our "over reactive responses" to 9/11. What I am talking about is taking more proactive measures. Perhaps 9/11 could have been avoided have we had a different foreign policy, didn't arm extremists with the short sight that in the future there could be blow back, and last but not least ignore all the guys taking flying lessons that didn't want to learn how to land the aircraft.

Re:This has always been the problem with the U.S. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557360)

STFU stooge.

Re:This has always been the problem with the U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557470)

Ahhh yes, It's nice to see that intellectual discourse is still alive and well on Slashdot.

Solar Storms Are More Of A Concern (2, Informative)

mim (535591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557342)

This is much more likely... http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,478024,00.html [foxnews.com] (yeah, it's fox, but includes some relevant links)

How old are these "strategists"? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557346)

Sometimes I wonder how old they are. They act like children.
EVERYBODY knows that it’s just a research paper.
But these people always pull some childish obvious bullshit out of it.

It really reminds me of the latest South Park episode.
“Yeah, must be a wizard alien! ... *shifty eyes*”

US Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557428)

We Are At War With Everybody

We Have Always Been At War WIth Everybody

Solution to attackability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557438)

Distributed generation, using 3MWe LFTR reactors, in about 4-6 40' shipping containers, located at the distribution yards in the network.

Re:Solution to attackability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557928)

but nukular is BAD, man. only a commie pinko or slant eyed yellow bastard would propose this. off to gitmo wit you.

It's far more than an over reaction (4, Insightful)

testadicazzo (567430) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557468)

It's a cultivated and educated effort at fear mongering, which is consistent with the U.S. indoctrinal system which has been in place, and under refinement, since the end of world war II. The analyst in question has this say about himself:

Dr.Dr. Larry M. Wortzel is president of Asia Strategies and Risks, LLC. He provides consulting services on defenses, security, political and economic issues related to China and East Asia. Wortzel has 37 years of experience assessing events and working in the Asia-Pacific region. He is the author of two books on China’s politics and military affairs. In addition, he has edited and contributed chapters to eight other books on China’s military forces. Wortzel has lectured in and contributed his expertise to newspapers, magazines and government officials in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand. During a 32-year military career he served in China, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand. Wortzel has been a strategist for the Pentagon and was director of the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College. He was vice president for foreign policy and defense studies at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, DC, think tank. He is a commissioner on the Congressionally-appointed US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

(from his webpage)

The guy is a member and servant of the circle of elites who profit, and enjoy enormous social success from their support of our militarized social and economic system. Pursuading a population of relatively free and relatively educated person to support an political system which can afford to spend $3 trillion dollars (washington post estimate) [washingtonpost.com] on an injust, unjustified terrorist war against an impoverished nation, against a dictator we incidentally empowered and supported through the worst of his crimes, and over the objections of its own citizenry, but quails at spending $1 trillion to ensure health care said citizens.

Wortzel enjoys a position of prestige and wealth for his support of the forces of that are destroying us, as do the reporters and editors of the New York Times for parading his observations without the criticism they deserve.

For anyone with a certain amount of research background, or even basic knowledge of network security and stability issues (in this case network in question is power network), the appropriate response to the paper would be analysis, and investigation and applicatoin of measures to improve the stability. The U.S. power grid has in recent years suffered from such cascading network failures several times in the last decade, and we Americans should be grateful that someone is investing the resources to investigate these issues. By publishing his results in a peer reviewed scientific journal, Mr. Wang has done us a service, and deserves our gratitude. Instead he's getting caught up in this policy wonk's latest search for enemies.

Security? (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557472)

When it comes to really big organizations, something like security does not exist. Social engineering and insider knowledge (which is not something to be kept secret) is usually enough to have a certain chance of convincing some moderately qualified person to assist you somehow in attacking some system. Unless you are really restrictive about communication to the outside, like no phone connections to the public phone network, only internal e-mail for all normal employees below a certain level. I would appreciate that for nuclear power plants (e.g. in case of an critical situation i dont want to have idiots from the press blocking internal communications), and i am under the impression that military around the world heavily restricts the communication of their soldier with the outside world. So yes - if you apply the standards of a cyberwar situation in which the opponent has all the insider knowledge, probably one can knock out a power network which is so unstable that it knocks itself out every few years (Sorry guys, as a german i find the idea of big-area blackouts happening in the US now and then just scary. Sadly also the European power network is deteriorating into the direction of the American standard - However the incident some time ago where a big line was taken off-line without enough preparation showed that the reaction off the network (partial, regionally limited blackout all over Europe, instead of an growing island of darkness) was still appropriate.)

Since no one has said it, (3, Funny)

arielCo (995647) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557480)

Wang: Americans, I have a message for you! Your power infrastructure is vulnerable!
LOUD SHOT. Wang grabs his chest and drops dead.
U.S. Military: And this is how we deal with threats.

(you can mod me down now)

No se. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31557626)

Also heard as : "dunoo", "never heard of it", "ain't acquainted", ... and so on.

Honestly. It seems as if intelligence and common sense are discarded and stupidity is just being recycled into "new".
By the way, seen many digital geese lately? Er, "in the cloud"? :)

http://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/20239807

http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a914040474&db=all

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=perilous-pursuit

http://www-ee.stanford.edu/~hellman/Breakthrough/book/chapters/bracken.html

China has no interes in us (2, Interesting)

sudden.zero (981475) | more than 4 years ago | (#31557724)

other than our lower middle class buying all there cheap crap at various discount retailers (i.e. Wal-Mart,Target, you fill in the blank). If they wanted to do any real damage to us they would simply quit buying our debt but then who would buy as much of their cheap junk as dumb lower middle class Americans do!?! Not to mention that if they really wanted to do some damage they could quit buying our debt and quit selling us cheap junk then our country would collapse. We simply do not have the manufacturing ability that we once did because we got lazy and cheap. If China were to completely pull out of the US right now we would be in a world of hurt for many years.
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