Wednesday, December 7, 2011

MIT study with major corporate “advisers” promotes centralized control of power grid

Madison Ruppert, Contributing Writer
Activist Post

The so-called threat to our electrical grid is something oft touted in the mainstream media as something dire which is calling for grand solutions at the federal level.

This is exactly what happened in the wake of what turned out to be blatant disinformation pushed by a so-called expert in cybersecurity who peddled the complete lie that a water pump in Illinois had been sabotaged by Russian hackers.

At the time, false flag alarms were ringing loud and clear and, lo and behold, in a matter of days they backtracked on the entire story.

Now CNET – which is owned by CBS Interactive, making it part of the “Big Six” that controls the establishment media – is covering a paper published by MIT which promotes the need for more centralized control of our utilities.

The researchers claim that due to the lack of a single entity controlling the security of the entire grid along with preparedness, response, and recovery, there is a gaping security vulnerability.

Their proposed solution is for the federal government to “designate a single agency to have responsibility for working with industry and to have appropriate regulatory authority to enhance cybersecurity preparedness, response, and recovery across the electric power sector, including bulk power and distribution systems.”

We’ve seen how well centralization works, and any sane person would not continue to promote the fallacy that putting more power in fewer hands is somehow going to solve everyone’s problems.

This is exactly what happened with the Department of Homeland Security (which, incidentally, the Obama administration has said should head up securing the grid) which has become a behemoth organization so wildly out of control that it is almost surreal.

Yet the MIT study, chaired by John G. Kassakian and Richard Schmalensee, still recommends that we unify our system under the command of a single government entity.

Not to mention, so-called “advisory committee members” from corporations that could very well stand to gain considerable amounts of money if such a plan were put into action.

The most questionable individuals come from the following corporations: the Microsoft Corporation, General Electric Company, Cisco Systems, the Exelon Corporation, Southern California Edison, Nexant, Inc., and the ABB Group.

Other entities involved with the advisory committee are worth listing: former Senator J. Bennett Johnston, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), American Electric Power, William W. Berry of Dominion Resources (retired), Electric Power Research Institute, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, former Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Elizabeth Anne Moler, Iberdrola S.A., Utility Wind Integration Group, Analysis Group, ISO New England, and New York ISO.

Even though this was a study about the security of our national power infrastructure, the study also involved researchers from Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Spain and the Netherlands.

The conflicts of interest here are voluminous and the notion that this study could be remotely impartial given the advisory committee is laughable at best.

This study is pushing for increased control and centralization which would require a plethora of new systems and technologies.

Who would get all those bloated government contracts? If you really need to ask at this point given the rampant naked corporatism in America then you should seek professional help.

Just like the shyster who promulgated the completely false notion that the pump failure in Illinois was caused by Russian hackers, the people promoting this claim stand to gain from their own proposed solutions.

They are engaging in typical marketing tactics: create a problem (even if it doesn’t exist), then convince people the problem is worth worrying about (even if it isn’t), and then provide the solution.
'There will be a successful attack at some point. It is thus important for the involved government agencies (i.e., NIST, DOE, FERC, and DHS), working with the private sector in a coordinated fashion, to support the research necessary to develop best practices for response to and recovery from cyberattacks on transmission and distribution systems, so that such practices can be widely deployed,' the researchers wrote.
The CNET article cites so-called security researchers (who make a living off of finding vulnerabilities and offering solutions) who have been concerned about attacks on our electrical grid for years, linking to another CNET article on the subject.

We will protect your privacy...guaranteed!

Of course, if one takes a moment to think, one likely will realize that the researchers have a clear motivation to promote this claim and always will.

Just like the lucrative counterterrorism/homeland security business requires terrorism -- real or manufactured, they don’t care which -- to justify the continued massive expenditure of government funds, security researchers require threats to justify their hefty fees.

On a personal note, I once had a small website hacked and the hacker sent me an email telling me about how my site was vulnerable and if I retained his services he would return my data and secure my site from future attacks.

He created a problem, convinced me to worry about it and then offered the solution. I told him I wasn’t interested (using wordage I wouldn’t like to repeat) and chalked it up as a loss.

However, in the case of something like a national power grid or a Fortune 500 website, they often have to play ball and in the style of Mafia racketeering, if a problem doesn’t exist, it is likely to be created by unscrupulous cash-hungry individuals.

In reality, hacking the grid is far from an easy task that can be pulled off by a rag-tag group of terrorist hackers or so-called “script kiddies.”

Hacking the national power grid, even as it is today with all of the supposed vulnerabilities it has, requires massive amounts of resources which make it highly unlikely for anything but a nation-state to be able to pull off such an operation.

As most people are well aware, the government employs an army of hackers in various units throughout the Department of Homeland Security, National Security Agency and elsewhere, including numerous informants in the hacking community.

If they needed to create the need for a solution to the non-existent threat of some large, well-funded, highly sophisticated group bringing down the American power grid, they could easily do so.

The researchers injected a tiny bit of wisdom into the paper in writing, “Despite alarmist rhetoric, there is no crisis here. But we do not advise complacency.”

They continue, “The environment in which the grid will operate will change substantially in the next two decades. If the grid is to evolve with minimal disruption despite the challenges ahead and if electricity rates and levels of reliability are to be acceptable, decision makers in government and industry need to continue to focus on meeting the system’s challenges.”

So, why do they themselves utilize alarmist rhetoric given that, according to their own admission, “there is no crisis here”?

The answer is that most establishment media outlets ignore these nuggets of truth and opt for the fear mongering sensationalism that comes with headlines like, “Power grid growing more vulnerable to cyber attacks, report finds” or “U.S. power grid is a big, soft target for cyberattack, MIT study shows” or “Cyber security: Power grid grows more vulnerable to attack, report finds”.

I guess something along the lines of “Corporate-sponsored MIT study promulgates false fear of cyberattacks to push for increasingly centralized federal control of all systems” wouldn’t be quite as attractive to the readers of the establishment media.

This would, however, be much more accurate and realistic. Given the fact that most, if not all, of the so-called threats being hyped up by the government and their corporate cronies are less dangerous than driving your car, why should we suddenly assume this is any different?

Consider the example of the so-called threat of terrorism, which I have shown time and time again is less dangerous than carrying out everyday activities.

Or take the oh-so-dangerous cannabis, which is less deadly than many prescription medications, has caused no deaths in two large studies and has no recorded cases of being the primary suspected cause of death.

Clearly, the threats that are hyped by the corporate controlled media and the corrupt federal government should be treated with a great deal of skepticism.

Why should the case of cyber security be any different? After all, the MIT researchers themselves have to admit that it is no crisis, why should we treat it as such?

I am not saying that we shouldn’t secure our national infrastructure, indeed we should. Does that mean totally centralizing control and handing over the keys to the criminals in Washington? I think not.

This article first appeared at End the Lie

Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at



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