Posted July 8, 2010
While authorities have long known of foreign attempts to hack into our systems with the potential of bringing down all or part of the electrical grid, this is but one threat that could cripple the nation's ability to function in the modern world.
The U.S. government is ramping up plans to protect the nation's critical electrical grid and other infrastructure from cyber attack by a foreign power. Plans call for the National Security Agency to install computer monitoring at key points that would alert authorities to attempts to hack into the grid in attempts to bring down the country's electrical service.
Part of the plan raises issues of invasion of privacy. The government wants to plug the holes of knowledge about attempts to bring down the system. The Wall Street Journal quotes an e-mail saying, "The overall purpose of the [program] is our Government...feel[s] that they need to insure the Public Sector is doing all they can to secure Infrastructure critical to our National Security." The article goes on to say, "U.S. intelligence officials have grown increasingly alarmed about what they believe to be Chinese and Russian surveillance of computer systems that control the electric grid and other U.S. infrastructure" ("U.S. Plans Cyber Shield for Utilities, Companies," July 6, 2010).
While authorities have long known of foreign attempts to hack into our systems with the potential of bringing down all or part of the electrical grid, this is but one threat that could cripple the nation's ability to function in the modern world. Another threat comes from the explosion of low-yield nuclear weapons in the atmosphere over the nation, setting off an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that would destroy all electronic circuitry, in everything.
Such a blast may not kill many people, but could render all forms of modern transportation inoperative. The complex computer circuitry would be "fried." Planes would fall from the sky. All ground transportation would stop in its tracks. Hospitals, nursing homes and everything around them would go dark. Refrigeration would fail, and the food and medicines requiring such storage would rapidly spoil. In effect the nation would instantly, in one second, revert to the early 1800s in lifestyle. The fabric of society would come apart.
North Korea is one nation that has a missile with the capability of reaching the United States with such a weapon. Or such a bomb could be delivered from freighters in the Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic coast.
This news caught my attention because I am reading a novel, One Second After by William R. Forstchen, which sets up just such an attack on the United States. The work of fiction is set in the mountains of North Carolina. It tells the grim story of what could happen to people who are ill prepared for having every vestige of modernity stripped away in an instant. It is so doubly scary because it could happen. Our leaders know it could happen and that we are not prepared for the aftermath. America's enemies have plans for such an attack. It is a matter of public record.
Here is how the author describes how quickly society could break down. "The web of our society, John thought, was like the beautiful spider webs he'd find as a boy in the back lot after dawn on summer days, dew making them visible. Vast, beautiful intricate things. And at the single touch of a match the web collapsed and all that was left for the spider to do, if it survived that day, was to rebuild the web entirely from scratch. And our enemies knew that and planned for it…and succeeded" (p. 260).
It is a very sobering story of an event that could happen to the United States. America's enemies have not stopped their efforts to build and deliver weapons that would destroy the power of the nation. Large and small nations who desire to replace the world's sole superpower are working night and day to accomplish their ends. It is a very dangerous world we live in.
Where does our true security lie? Ultimately it is with God. There are many things we can and should do to mitigate the effects of such an attack. But in the end it will take reliance on God to see us through any such catastrophe. Psalm 91 is a powerful message of God's ability to deliver us from calamity. Put your trust in Him while keeping yourself informed of world events.