Saturday, March 27, 2010


Chinese Academics’ Paper on Cyber War Sets Off Alarms in U.S.

An interesting article appears in the New York Times regarding the vulnerability of the US power grid and a paper written by a Chinese engineering student.

A Chinese student, Wang Jianwei, above, and his professor, wrote an academic paper on the vulnerability of the American power grid to a computer attack. Scientists said the paper was merely a technical exercise.

It came as a surprise this month to Wang Jianwei, a graduate engineering student in Liaoning, China , that he had been described as a potential 'cyber-warrior' before the United States Congress.

The New York Times reports that Larry M. Wortzel, a military strategist and China specialist, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on March 10 that it should be concerned because “Chinese researchers at the Institute of Systems Engineering of Dalian University of Technology published a paper on how to attack a small U.S. power grid sub-network in a way that would cause a cascading failure of the entire U.S.”

Larry M. Wortzel, a military strategist, recently drew attention to the paper.

When reached by telephone, Mr. Wang said he and his professor had indeed published “Cascade-Based Attack Vulnerability on the U.S. Power Grid” in an international journal called Safety Science last spring. But Mr. Wang said he had simply been trying to find ways to enhance the stability of power grids by exploring potential vulnerabilities.

“We usually say ‘attack’ so you can see what would happen,” he said. “My emphasis is on how you can protect this. My goal is to find a solution to make the network safer and better protected.”

Independent American scientists who read his paper said it was true: Mr. Wang’s work was a conventional technical exercise that in no way could be used to take down a power grid.


  1. Hire him on the spot. Make an offer he can't refuse.

  2. Just more media hype trying to save their dying trade.

    The shame and blame should go on our Congress and our stupid dept of Energy for not re-designing and safeguarding our grids for the last forty years.

    There has been much said about this problem, I could go back much, much further in time, but here is one from a few years ago.

    Securing America's Power Grid

    Only one of the hundreds of political and/or industry warnings that have repeatedly been ignored.

    Papa Ray

  3. I don't believe this power grid attack stuff. I am a Grid System Control Operator. I don't see a way to "hack in" and cause the damage imagined.

  4. There was a very serious issue with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems about 10-15 years ago.

    This is the communications and hardware protocol that a lot of industrial processes use to talk and report and they were never designed to run on an open network.

    Absolutely fantastic going from the power plant to a supervisors office PC but when the supervisor upgraded to Windows 95 and got a connection to the internet, all bets were off...

    This security hole was recognized very quickly and fixed very quickly.

    Anyone these days who claims to be a SCADA security expert is a rent-seeking a**hole who is seeking to profit off an ignorant political base.

    Wortzel and Tom Donahue are the two 'consultants' that are at the forefront of this.

    There was some problems in Brazil as late as 2007 but everyone is now nicely up to date.

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