Potential resiliency challenges from ICS cyber attacks

July 13, 2017

If large equipment such as generators or transformers are damaged in a cyber attack, not only can it take many months to build new equipment, it could take weeks just to get it to the facility site because of the size of the equipment.

July 11, 2017, the Boston Globe ran a short story with the title: “Truck too heavy for bridges awaits removal”. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation says a flatbed truck that was stopped on the side of Interstate 95 because it’s too heavy for any bridges in the state will be moved this week. The 16-axle truck carrying a 560,000-pound generator has been stuck in Warwick since June 30…When people talk about control system cyber damage to physical equipment, such as Aurora damaging generators and transformers, there is little appreciation for the nuances of repairing the damage and what that means to resiliency. The Lloyd’s of London cyber insurance report performed by Cambridge University assumed 15 generators were damaged and the grid was back up in 7 days. This is lunacy. If a large generator needs to be replaced, it could take almost a year to build the generator which doesn’t include shipping, site preparation as there may no longer be railroad tracks or an adequate roadbed for this type of large load, and installation. There was the case in the Southwest several years ago, when a large transformer was shipped into the port of LA/Long Beach to be delivered to a substation in western Arizona. The move of less than 250 miles took more than a week because the trailer with the large transformer was so tall it could not make it under the bridges on I-10. Maybe we need to look at cyber resilience and recovery in a different way.

Joe Weiss

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