Warnings that North Korea and Iran have plans to take out parts of the U.S. electric grid through a cyber-attack or atmospheric nuclear blast has Department of Defence worried. In response, the Pentagon is taking steps to protect both the nation's communications and power lifeline.
BAE Systems have been charged with the responsibility of mapping a system that can detect a cyber-attack by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The system will also gin up an alternative communications network for military and civilian use if the grid is fried.
Several warning shots have been shot by the former CIA Director James Woolsey who warned that the grid is extremely vulnerable. The Pentagon and some states have taken the warning seriously. The former EMP commission chief of staff Peter Vincent Pry and Woolsey have pointed a finger at North Korea, which is now threatening the U.S.
As DARPA's focuses on thwarting a cyber-attack, Pry and Woolsey have also warned that North Korea or Iran could attack the grid with an atmospheric nuclear explosion over the East Coast that will disable the grid and that could end up leading to the death of 90 percent of those in the East.
The plan presented in Defense Systems by DARPA has several elements that react to attack. The first response is to include ways to sense an imminent attack that would trigger protections. However, if it is damaged, it would have an alternative way for communications killed in the attack to continue in a backup system. That would ensure that financial and military systems continue operating. The system is expected to be ready by 2020.
DARPA released a statement saying that it is specifically interested in early warning of impending attacks, situation awareness, network isolation and threat characterization in response to a widespread and persistent cyber-attack on the power grid and its dependent systems.
The relevant technologies that ought to be taken into consideration include anomaly detection, planning and automated reasoning, mapping of conventional and industrial control systems networks, ad hoc network formation, analysis of industrial control systems protocols, and rapid forensic characterization of cyber threats in industrial control system devices.
The system is known as Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation and Characterization Systems. One of the BAE officials said that the purpose of the program is to provide a technology that quickly isolates both the enterprise IP network and the power infrastructure networks to disrupt malicious attacks imminent from countries such as Iran and North Korea.