What Is the Biggest Threat to the National Power Grid Squirrel?
A cybersecurity strategist at Tenable Network Security recently argued that squirrels pose a greater threat to the US power grid than hackers. This is an interesting statement because squirrels are responsible for hundreds of power outages each year in the US. Of the confirmed infrastructure cyberattacks, only one resulted in physical damage. Clearly, we’re in trouble when it comes to these furry little creatures. But a recent study found that squirrels pose a greater threat to the power grid than hackers.
What is the biggest threat to the national power grid squirrel? is a question frequently asked by power companies and utility workers alike. A squirrel can chew through power cables and cause a blackout. The American Public Power Association reports that squirrel-related power outages affect fewer people than storm-related outages. Still, it’s important to recognize that squirrels pose a significant threat to the nation’s power grid.
CyberSquirrel One is a website dedicated to tracking the number of incidents caused by squirrels on the electric grid. It also tracks covert attacks on the grid. One recent attack knocked out electricity in New York state for several hours, and two weeks ago a six-foot snake cut off power to a small town in Tennessee. A recent study suggests that the number of squirrel-caused power outages is even higher than the number of EMPs. But while the threat of squirrel-caused power outages is still theoretical, it’s worth noting that utility companies are installing protections to keep out squirrels and other wildlife.
It is no secret that birds and squirrels can disrupt the national power grid. Large predatory birds pose a greater threat to power grids. They have been known to chew through power cables, leading to blackouts. Some cybersecurity researchers say that the alarming tone in many policy discussions concerning cyberattacks on critical infrastructure is due to the exaggeration of the threat. But there is nothing more disturbing than a squirrel eating a power cable.
According to the American Public Power Association, which represents community-owned utilities, squirrels caused more than 3,400 power outages last year, mostly in the Midwest and Northwest. The squirrels are among the most intelligent animals, capable of squeezing through nickel-sized holes and chewing on objects. Squirrels are responsible for nearly half of all power outages, so their presence in the area needs to be controlled.
According to cybersecurity strategist C. Thomas of Tenable Network Security, squirrels are a bigger threat to the national power grid than hackers. These invasive rodents cause hundreds of power outages every year, but the only known infrastructure cyberattack has caused physical damage. In 1987, a squirrel attack in New York City shut down trading on 20 million shares, but experts now say squirrels pose the greatest threat to the power grid.
The problem is complicated by the diversity of mother nature. For example, squirrel tactics are different than those for turkey buzzards or raccoons. Defensive parameters are often difficult to determine, but it keeps the work interesting. The Gaffney Ledger recently reported the death of a squirrel that was found near a transmission tie station. A year earlier, a buzzard blew up a transmission tie station in Greenwood County, leaving 4,400 people without power.
In spite of its cute nature, squirrels pose a significant risk to the national power grid. In fact, the Department of Energy has identified climate change as one of the most important threats to our electricity grid. Natural phenomena such as wildfires, droughts, and floods are particularly harmful to our transmission, storage, and distribution systems. Adaptation efforts will be required to address the effects of climate change. And the more severe these events become, the higher the costs will be.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that hurricane seasons will be above normal this year and for the next seven years. Moreover, climate change and fossil fuel emissions may cause extinctions of ocean species by 2300. While reducing emissions is one way to mitigate the risks of extinction, solutions to climate change will likely require a considerable amount of money. However, grid operators are wary of making consumers pay for such precautions.
According to cybersecurity strategist C. Thomas, squirrels pose a bigger threat to the US power grid than hackers. The squirrel has been causing power outages for decades. His research tracked 1,753 power outages caused by animals in the US, which equates to 78 days of power cuts a year. At the same time, he noted that only a few attacks actually caused physical damage.
Security experts, government officials and scientists recognize the challenges posed by the grid, but they think the threats are overblown. According to Scott Aaronson, executive director of security at the Edison Electric Institute, which represents 55,000 power substations and serves about two20 million people in the United States, a sophisticated attack would knock out the grid, leaving millions of Americans in the dark. But while a sophisticated attack would be necessary to knock the system down, most hacks are relatively insignificant and have little effect on operations.
What is the biggest threat to the national power grid?
Answer 1: Squirrels.
How many squirrels are there in the United States?
Answer 2: There are an estimated 10.
5 million squirrels in the United States.
What is the estimated damage caused by squirrels to the US power grid each year?
Answer 3: Squirrels cause an estimated $4.
58 billion in damage to the US power grid each year.
How many power outages are caused by squirrels each year in the US?
Answer 4: Squirrels cause an estimated 3800 power outages each year in the US.
What is the leading cause of power outages in the US?
Answer 5: The leading cause of power outages in the US is weather followed by squirrels.
How many homes and businesses lose power each year due to squirrels?
Answer 6: An estimated 2.
5 million homes and businesses lose power each year due to squirrels.
What is the estimated cost of power outages caused by squirrels each year in the US?
Answer 7: The estimated cost of power outages caused by squirrels each year in the US is $150 million.
What are the top five states in the US for squirrel damage to the power grid?
Answer 8: The top five states in the US for squirrel damage to the power grid are Ohio Pennsylvania Maryland New Jersey and Michigan.
What are the top five cities in the US for squirrel damage to the power grid?
Answer 9: The top five cities in the US for squirrel damage to the power grid are Columbus Ohio; Philadelphia Pennsylvania; Baltimore Maryland; Newark New Jersey; and Detroit Michigan.
How many power outages has Columbus Ohio had due to squirrels in the past five years?
Answer 10: Columbus Ohio has had an average of 2.
6 power outages per year due to squirrels in the past five years.
How many power outages has Philadelphia Pennsylvania had due to squirrels in the past five years?
Answer 11: Philadelphia Pennsylvania has had an average of 1.
4 power outages per year due to squirrels in the past five years.
How many power outages has Baltimore Maryland had due to squirrels in the past five years?
Answer 12: Baltimore Maryland has had an average of 1.
2 power outages per year due to squirrels in the past five years.
How many power outages has Newark New Jersey had due to squirrels in the past five years?
Answer 13: Newark New Jersey has had an average of 0.
8 power outages per year due to squirrels in the past five years.
How many power outages has Detroit Michigan had due to squirrels in the past five years?
Answer 14: Detroit Michigan has had an average of 0.
6 power outages per year due to squirrels in the past five years.
What is the best way to prevent power outages caused by squirrels?
Answer 15: The best way to prevent power outages caused by squirrels is to trim trees away from power lines install squirrel guards on power poles and seal up openings to buildings where squirrels can enter.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.