UK Power Outage - The Cyber Effect?

Electric power distribution networks across Britain were struck by an exceptional damaging power outage, with cities, towns, villages and airports, rail and road networks across England and Wales without electricity which affected around 1 million UK citizens.

The power cut happened on Friday 9th August in the early evening at 5pm with blackouts affecting the midlands, the South East, South West, North West and N. East of England, and Wales. 

The UK National Grid said its systems were not to blame and the power cut was caused by the loss of two generators.

Duncan Burt, the Director of Operations, say that the UK’s Grid systems still ‘worked well’ after the ‘incredibly rare event’ of two power stations disconnecting. 

When asked by the BBC he said he did not believe that a cyber-attack or unpredictable wind power generation were to blame, although both US and UK security services have been warning recently that attacks on Critical National Infrastructure are an increasing liability and threat with the ability to seriously disrupt national operations. And increasingly cyber incursions have been reported, attributed to nation-states.

These attacks are with bytes and bots and they are aimed at our energy grids, our infrastructure, and even our private financial and other information.

The US Government has announced a surprising move to secure power grids by using “retro” technologies. It comes after numerous attempts by foreign actors to launch cyberattacks on so-called critical national infrastructure (CNI). Nations have been trying to secure the industrial control systems that power CNI for years. The challenge lies in the fact that these systems were not built with security in mind, because they were not originally meant to be connected to the internet. 

It is with this in mind cyber monitoring should be considerably improved in the UK to be made constant and it requires a new strategy: rather than bringing in new technology and skills, it should use analog and manual technology to isolate the grid's most important control systems. 

Around 300,000 UK Power Networks customers were affected in London and the south east, and Western Power Distribution said around 500,000 people were affected in the Midlands, south west and Wales. Power was restored to them all shortly after 6pm. Northern Powergrid, which serves Yorkshire and the North East, said 110,000 of its customers lost power, while at least 26,000 people were without power in the North West of England, Electricity North West said.

No Answers as to the Cause - So far
The “incredibly rare event” appears to have been triggered after two power stations disconnected from the grid almost at the same time, said a senior official at National Grid, which owns the electricity transmission system in England and Wales.
However, the questions remain as to what caused the massive power-out. And there are questions as to whether it was a planned cyber-attack by a government Hacker group in order to test the effects on the UK. 

These questions are still being asked and it will take some weeks before a full report is completed.

The UK’s energy watchdog Ofgem said it had asked for "an urgent detailed report from National Grid so we can understand what went wrong and decide what further steps need to be taken".

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