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The Energy Sector: A Prime Target for Cyber Attacks

The article below was written by IWP student Patricia L Schouker and published by the Foreign Policy Association.

U.S. lawmakers are concerned about the lack of preparation for a possible long term power outage caused by a cyber-attack against the energy sector. For all of the marvel the electric grid’s engineering achievement merits, it is increasingly at risk.

Part of this is merely due to the age of many of its essential components. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has noted: “Altogether, our nation’s electric energy infrastructure is a patchwork system that has evolved over a long period of time, with equipment of widely differing ages and capacities. For example, about 51% of the generating capacity of the U.S. is in plants that were at least 30 years old at the end of 2010. Most gas-fired capacity is less than 10 years old, while 73% of all coal-fired capacity is 30 years or older. Moreover, nationally, 70% of transmission lines and power transformers are 25 years or older, while 60% of circuit breakers are more than 30 years old.”

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