International Top 30 position: 4

Critical infrastructure security: the need for a twofold approach

An attack on a California electrical substation highlights the urgent need to protect the nation’s energy, communications and other critical infrastructure from threats, both physical and cyber.

One night last spring, snipers attacked a relatively remote electrical substation near California’s Silicon Valley. In what appears to have been a very carefully planned strike, the perpetrators cut underground communication cables, and then, under cover of darkness, opened fire on the substation equipment with automatic weapons. They damaged 17 large transformers before police were able to respond.

Fortunately, the region did not experience any power outages, as operators — once they became aware of what had happened — were able to re-route some power around the damaged facility, but it took the utility a month to repair the equipment. The attackers were never caught…

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