According to former Nightline host Ted Koppel, America is a sitting duck. His recent book Lights Out raises the poignant concern that America is not at all prepared for an imminent attack on its power grid.
Koppel appeared on CBS Sunday Morning to speak about his concerns. “It’s frightening,” he said. “I mean, it is frightening enough that my wife and I decided we were going to buy enough freeze-dried food for all of our kids and their kids.”
Koppel and others are surprised the attacks haven’t come yet. “I think it comes down to timing,” says cyber security consultant Larry Pesce. “I think we need to make the right people mad at the right time.”
Chinese and Russian hackers are already in our power grid – a complex network that provides backup power when outages occur. The whole system depends on a working Internet.
“The Iranians may be on the verge of getting in. And then at the bottom of the capability scale are folks like ISIS, terrorist groups,” said Koppel after discussing the matter with a former NSA chief scientist.
While researching for Lights Out, Koppel tracked down and spoke with every former secretary of Homeland Security. None of them knew of a plan in case of cyber attack. “Look, I’m sure there’s something up there somewhere,” said the current secretary as he pointed to a shelf crowded with binders.
Former Defense Department official Paul Stockton argues that Koppel is wrong. “The government is building plans very, very quickly now to help manage the consequences of an attack on the grid,” said Stockton.
However, Stockton does agree in part with Koppel and advises that “average citizens need to be able to take care of their own families and their own neighborhoods and their own communities, and not assume that Uncle Sam is somehow going to magically bring in the cavalry and rescue them.”