Gridlock is a novel by former Senator Byron L. Dorgan and David Hagberg which was published in July earlier this year. The novel tells a story that goes something like, “Iran and Venezuela want to destroy the United States, so they conspire with a rogue Russian spy to launch a cyberattack on the North American power grid, beginning by electrocuting a lineman in North Dakota. Their main obstacle is a small-town sheriff in the state’s badlands, Nate Osborne, a former Marine Corps lieutenant in Afghanistan whose titanium leg ultimately saves the day” (Wald). Sound fantastic? Maybe, but the United States wants to be ready for every possible eventuality, hence GridEx II.
With that said, a drill is scheduled to occur on November 13th-14th. It is organized by the NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation). The drill is designed to observe how the country would react to a large power grid failure that would interrupt supplies of food, fuel, and water and also creates more panic than those brought by the attacks on September 11, 2001.
GridEx II has 4 main objectives, which are:
- Validate the current readiness of the electricity industry to respond to a security incident, incorporating lessons learned from GridEx 2011.
- Assess, test, and validate existing command, control and communication plans and tools for NERC and its stakeholders.
- Identify potential improvements in physical and cyber security plans, programs, and responder skills.
- Evaluate senior leadership policy doctrine and triggers in response to major grid reliability issues.
A full briefing on GridEx 2013 can be found here.