Energy, Cyber, EMP Threats – Ambassador R. James Woolsey – American Center for Democracy
It is insidious because if you look at the vulnerability from intentionally-caused EMP, it’s a much simpler task than designing and developing and testing and targeting an ICBM or an SLBM that can hit a target on the ground. If all you have to do is get 30 clicks or more up into space and get in some rough orbit and get over some portion of the United States and detonate — either salvage-fused if somebody shoots something at you, or just detonate — you could have a massive effect without being accurate at all, and even try a shot around the South Pole, and if that doesn’t work, don’t say anything and go try another one later. There are just a number of vulnerabilities that stem from the nature of electromagnetic pulse that people really are so appalled by they often don’t want to deal with the matter at all.
And in some ways, this is our biggest problem. That some of the difficulties that we face, here, in particular the takedown — the comparatively easy takedown — of major portions of (or even, in some circumstances, all of) the North America electrical grid creates a situation where people just say: “This is just too hard, this is just too massive, it’s too scary, I’m going to go do something else.” Part of what we need to do is make sure people understand that in a lot of circumstances, we’re talking about the massive expenditure of roughly 20 cents per electricity consumer per year on some of the important types of steps that can usefully be taken. So part of what we need to do is understand the way one can utilize technology in a very affordable way to make a real difference in our vulnerabilities to cyber and related threats.