Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blackout in South America

Just weeks after Rio de Janiero won the 2016 Summer Olympics and as it gears up for perhaps as equally big an extragavanza, hosting the 2014 Men's World Cup of Soccer, a huge security concern has come up. Last night, a blackout plunged 60 million residents of Brazil and Paraguay into darkness for over two hours.

Why did this happen? No one seems to know for sure. Officially, sabotage is being denied at this time and the blame is instead placed on an "atmospheric event." The events have pointed critics to a huge flaw that nearly did in the Northeast of North America in the summer of 2003 -- too much interconnectivity causing a chain reaction blackout.
But if a 60 Minutes story the other night about how easy it is to hack into critical infrastructure is any indication, it may not be a good sign. It's happened before in Rio and many point a finger for those past events directly at Mainland China which, while it was unstatated, cannot tolerate any possible economic rivals and democratically elected ones at that. Or perhaps organized crime who can operate virtually anywhere on the planet.

Or it could be al Qaeda or another tech saavy terrorist group. And we know trojan horses have already been downloaded into central computers by stealth.
It doesn't make me feel all that comfortable about the security of Canada's electrical grid and our chemical and other raw materials plants. Or how easy it is to disconnect some power plants that may need to go offline in a hurry without causing damage to other plants or infrastructure at the end-user points. Not only that, if it's easy to hack into civilian systems, what leap of logic would it take to go from there to hacking into -- say, drones that can be flown by remote control, guided missles, entire cargo planes or destroyer ships.
And God forbid if a terrorist ever cracked the official nuclear launch codes.
I don't want to necessarily know what's being done -- that of course gives the hackers the heads up. Just that something is being done and intrusion attempts are caught and prosecuted.

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