As The Associated Press reports, much of what goes on at the Idaho National Laboratory, once known as the country’s primary nuclear research facility, isn’t discussed. But what is known is that those who fill the dimmed rooms full of wires, cables, computers, and detection gear are diligently trying to guard against the unthinkable: Attacks on power grids, water treatment facilities, financial institutions, and even traffic lights that could bring large sections of the country to a standstill.
Followed by chaos.
The lab’s director of cybersecurity, Scott Cramer, admits that the task at hand is a difficult one and that the United States is playing catch-up, of sorts. He describes the cybersecurity work as “bolting on” protections for infrastructure control systems that are decades old with the belief that many of them have already been infiltrated by malicious actors — nation-states and non-state actors alike — who are waiting for the time to launch attacks.
“This is no joke — there are vulnerabilities out there,” Cramer told the AP. “We’re pretty much in reaction mode right now.”
That’s not hyperbole. A recently released report from the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council lays out a similarly dire warning. After interviewing “dozens of senior leaders and experts” as well as conducting an in-depth review of existing studies and statues, the NIAC “found that existing national plans, response resources, and coordination strategies would be outmatched by a catastrophic power outage,” the report noted.
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