Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act (GRID Act) Reintroduced
The GRID Act is back on the table. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act (GRID Act) in the both the House (H.R. 4298) and Senate (S. 2158) on March 26, 2014.
“Unless we act now, the United States will continue to remain vulnerable to the 21st century cyberarmies preparing to wage war on our banking, health care, and defense systems by knocking out America’s electricity grid,” said Sen. Markey, original House co-author of the GRID Act. “The GRID Act will help secure our nation’s electrical grid against devastating damage from physical or cyber terrorist attacks or from natural disasters. Previous passage of the GRID Act in the House on a bipartisan basis is testament to our ability to reach consensus on this critical national security issue. I thank Rep. Waxman for his leadership in the House, and look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to take action on this important issue.”
What we think of today as cyber warfare has really evolved out of space warfare. As personal computers, the Internet, and the various means of connecting them became prolific on Earth in recent years, the various warfare techniques used in space-and other terrestrial forms of electronic warfare–migrated to cyber. We are all very familiar with examples of cyber warfare. Examples include the Russian use of cyber warfare against Georgia in their recent conflict to essentially put down Georgian information networks, their command and control systems, along with the Internet and most everything connected to it. What makes this example particularly interesting was how the Russians went about it. They simply encouraged private hactivists to engage Georgian cyber systems. It was a free-for-all. This resulted in a very effective removal of Georgia from the grid, with very little Russian investment in this success.
Cyber warfare is clear in our minds, but the Russian example points to another interesting phenomenon that we are seeing in space and cyber warfare. We find ourselves living in the age of the super-empowered individual. Space and cyber capabilities that only nation-states possessed even as late as a few years ago now reside within the grasp of anyone with access to the internet-for intelligence, operational command-and-control, and execution of various cyber techniques that can destroy, degrade, deny, disrupt, or deceive targeted equipment and the services they provide.
In summary, we have been living in the age of space and cyber warfare for a number of decades now. There is no negotiating our way out, and no treaties that can be made to stop it. In fact, in most cases space and cyber warfare is employed in lieu of using lethal and destructive force against people and property.
In an age where super-empowered individuals and groups cannot be deterred, the only way forward is to invest in space and cyber defenses and plan to operate through whatever interference they cause. Eliminating critical dependencies on space and cyber is essential, as well as creating robust terrestrial back-ups for both mediums. We can already glimpse with some discomfort where technology is taking us, but we can begin now to prepare for the emerging realities.