The National Grid, Power Outages, Cyber Attacks, and GridEx II

October 30, 2013

By Frank Griffin - Contributing Writer

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, known as NERC (News - Alert), and many different local, state, and federal organizations along with collaborating agencies from Canada and Mexico, will be conducting the Grid Security Exercise II (GridEx II) from November 13-14, 2013. Just in case you missed the first sector-wide grid security exercise, it was held in November 16-17, 2011. The purpose of this exercise is to determine the readiness of the national smart grid in the event of a catastrophic natural disaster or a direct attack using cyber warfare or other means.

The NERC has issued a statement regarding the exercises saying, "This is a simulated exercise to practice crisis response and information sharing. No real power outages will occur due to this exercise." However, Trinity Electric LLC in New Orleans has issued a press release warning its customers to be prepared in the event of a disaster no matter when it takes place.

While nothing is supposed to happen during the exercise, it is important to note power outages take place all the time. Anything from a squirrel to a fallen tree branch have been responsible for causing damage to infrastructure and property belonging to businesses and consumers.

As our dependence on computing devices continues to increase daily, we have more of them everywhere and a plugged in computer can get damaged if it is not adequately protected. The loss could also extend to the data contained on the computer. If a computer is not properly shut down, the risk of losing the data increases that much more.

A UPS system from Minuteman lets you shut down your PC properly when there is an outage. The UPS can also be configured to shut down appropriately if you are not present to guarantee the safety of the computer, and more importantly the valuable data contained within the hard drive. Surge protectors should be used to protect each outlet that has a device to ensure that when the power comes back on, the sudden surge will not burn your consumer electronics and appliances.

Whether the outage takes place during the exercise or not, home owners and businesses should have a protocol in place to ensure everyone in the home and business knows exactly what to do.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson