Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...


Everything but tech support.

1620, 16 May 21

Our Grid is Exposed

Senator Johnson is right.

The circumstance exposes “how incredibly vulnerable our fuel grid is, our electrical grid is,” Johnson told host John Catsimatidis, but there are “no easy solutions” to the newfangled modern warfare.


Johnson believes things might even get more difficult as the Biden administration seeks to pick up the agenda of the progressives’ Green New Deal to remake American energy, particularly as it relates to giving the government more control over energy.


“With everybody hooking up their solar panels and hooking into the grid so they can get a few shekels for the electricity they’re selling into the grid, we become more and more vulnerable,” Johnson said, adding it creates “more points of contact that cyber-attackers can exploit.’


“We really need to change the direction we’re headed in here. No administration has paid sufficient attention to the vulnerabilities of our electrical grid.”

To take it a step further, we have also not adapted our accepted responses to attacks like this. There is a fine line between a simple criminal act and an act of war. And an act of war does not necessarily have to be perpetrated by another nation.

In this case, the shutdown of the pipeline wreaked untold economic damage on the nation. It also caused a national security issue by starving our armed forces – including the coast guard – of fuel throughout a third of the country. While all of our forces have reserves, how long would they last? What if the pipeline stayed shut down for another week? A month? A year? And what is a terrorist group or cartel or another nation took advantage of our moment of weakness?

This kind of asymmetrical warfare demands a more aggressive response. Put a Tomahawk through the kitchen window of these hackers. It changes the risk profile for these kinds of attacks. They attack us from Eastern Europe because they know that our law enforcement can’t reach them there. As a nation, we have other tools in our arsenal. This kinds of attack is not a matter for law enforcement. It is a national security issue and must be treated as such.


1620, 16 May 2021


  1. dad29

    In the case of pipelines, the danger lies in crap security provisions by the pipeline company which put its control system on-line. “Air-gapping” the SCADA system is required. Yes, that costs money.

    As to EMP, there probably are ‘hardening’ solutions out there. Find ’em.

    Only ONE Tomahawk?

  2. Mar

    Shoot, if you are a domestic terrorist, a couple of M80s and a pick up truck can shut down the electrical grid. A backhoe can shut down a pipeline.
    Same with the water.

  3. Mike

    Biden has reversed Trump’s blacklisting of Chinese electronics and software known to have backdoor access. This is as concerning as physical access.

    Zoom is Chinese based. Remember The problems when schools started using that. Were those problems really due to excessive use or was that a dry run to see how disruptive they could be?

  4. jonnyv

    I don’t have solar, but I don’t believe that hooking up your solar power to the grid is creating any additional points of attack. You are not hooking up your network, just the meter. Honestly this sounds like another idiotic statement by Johnson attempting to denigrate green power. And for Johnson to say something as dumb as “a few shekels” is dismissive and ignorant (no shock), estimated savings on solar is about 7-8K over 20 years or about $80 a month. And that may be nothing to him, that is a LOT for some.

    But I do agree that much of our public power and utility infrastructure is out dated and ripe for attack.

  5. steveegg

    Mar, all it took to shut down Mitchell Field and Amtrak a few years back was a sufficiently-large wrench.

    As for the terrorists, do what their patron would do – send a wet works team.

  6. Tuerqas

    “And that may be nothing to him, that is a LOT for some.”

    Heh, not for anyone who can afford solar…

    As for the vulnerability to our energy in general, I think that it’s clear it is there. I do think I agree with Jonnyv on the solar comment by Johnson, I don’t see how it would provide another point of contact if it is just a meter read and an energy output (I have never had solar either, if there is some sort of monthly communication to the energy company there very well could be a danger). I have watched enough Leverage to believe an elite hacker could do something with the solar connection, but if you had a Hardison, there are thousands of better ways…

  7. Merlin

    Johnson is correct, but I don’t think he takes the truth far enough. There’s no such thing as impenetrable cyber security. It’s a myth. You might do better today than yesterday, but there’s always a tomorrow you can’t control.

  8. jonnyv

    Merlin, I agree. My day job is an IT Manager for a mid-sized company in Milwaukee. I always tell the superiors that it isn’t a matter of “if” it is a matter of “when”. Security is always a step behind, and whenever you have people in the fray, there will be a chance for hacking to occur. All you can do is your best and plug holes when you find them. Because the more security you put up, the harder it is for employees to do their job.

  9. dad29

    7-8K over 20 years or about $80 a month.


    $8K/20 years is $400/year. That’s not ‘shekels;’ it’s chicken feed for malnourished chickens.

  10. Tuerqas

    Really really mal-nourished chickens. We spend at least 180/month on our flock of about 40 chickens…

  11. dad29

    No Small Irony Department: former Rep Mark Neumann (R) is selling solar-heating systems/solar-power systems, and Lo and Behold!! HE keeps the tax credits.

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