Will The Biggest Blackout In American History Be Eclipsed By Cyber Attack?


During a hot summer day in August 2003, the lights went out across much of the Northeast and Midwest United States and the Canadian province of Ontario. It was the biggest blackout in American history, all triggered by an overloaded overheated power line in Ohio which sagged down low and hit tree foliage.

A ‘software bug’ in a control room alarm system failed to warn operators to re-distribute power which resulted in a cascading massive widespread grid failure.

Not long ago, power company executives gathered in Washington to discuss the reliability of the electric power grid. The major topic of discussion: cyber-attack

While the 2003 outage was much more widespread than the Northeast Blackout of 1965 and affected an estimated 10 million people in Ontario and 45 million people in eight U.S. states for up to several days, power company engineers worry that a cyber-attack could bring an even bigger blackout than has ever happened before.

The following are a few excerpted quotes from a conversation between David Greene and Tom Gjelten (NPR) with Mark Weatherford (former DHS cybersecurity), Michael Assante (NBISE president, cybersecurity expert), and James Fama (Edison Electric Institute) who revealed more substantiation for the emerging threat facing of our power grid… Cyber Attack.


“Now we can remotely manage devices via the Internet. So instead of putting somebody in a truck and having them drive a hundred miles to a substation in the middle of the mountains somewhere, you remotely manage that.”

“And then, really to no one’s fault at the time – we didn’t realize it – but didn’t think a lot about the security and the insecurity of doing that.”


“If you go to engineering school, you’re not taught about cyber security as part of becoming a power engineer.”


“The cyber threat. This is a new concern in the power industry, this idea that the electric grid could be shut down by hackers. Here’s what’s changed, two things. First, more of the equipment that makes up the electric grid – from the generators to the transformers – is now operated by computers. Mess with the computer, and you can turn the lights off.”

“When a computer is connected to the Internet, a good hacker can generally a find a way in. This is the new disaster scenario for power companies.”

“The concern now is that a really sophisticated cyber attack could cause a blackout bigger than anything we’ve ever seen.”

The loss of our electrical power grid. While most can deal with losing power for a few hours, if faced with life without electricity for several days, a week, weeks?, or longer?, then life as we know it will be disrupted beyond one’s wildest imagination.

We as a modern society have EXTREME dependence on the power grid. Electricity. The risk and consequences of losing electricity are so enormous, that every single one of us should consider the ramifications — even if only for a few days. If you begin to think about the consequences of a long term blackout, you might scare yourself into taking some serious action…

Think about it.

If you need more convincing, the following novels will surely scare you into action:
One Second After
Lights Out


  1. Ahhh No power, What a nice thought for those of us prepared for that. The ability to hear birds singing instead of the usual droning of electrical units. The ability to see more stars in the night sky than mankind has seen in a long time since there is no more light pollution. People actually communicating instead of having their faces buried in a device. A return to the days of working for your food, wood for cooking and heating EtC. What a nice quiet world- After the initial Chaos and nonsense…;-)

    1. I’m none too sure people would be communicating as much as killing each other, and that’s not such a “nice thought” for the innocent women and children that’d die. If you want to see the stars and hear the birds and all that you could go camping, you get what you want and no one has to get shot over a tea candle.

  2. I have to agree with Spud. Other some inconveniences, I would rather enjoy no AC/DC for about a year or ten.

    1. Im there too, will be not as convenient but for my area would be nice, everyone clise by my locate is pretty cool, so will make folks closer, i think the electronic crap has just made us into an isolationist society, social media is everything but social, is just airing every last piece of laundry,,,


    3. Better be careful what you wish for. Dirty deeds will be done dirt cheap.

  3. Last month locally here in Central Texas our grid went down for almost seven hours. I did not find out about the grid down problem until a neighbor came over and very forcefully demanded that I let him put his frozen meat in my freezer. Well, my house is totally solar powered. But, here is this neighbor angry and in a panic that he was going to loose $150 in meat. He and I have discussed being prepared and the discussion always ends with him saying that he will just deal with any future problem. I told him that what happened could have been much worse and his reply was “I took care of it this time and I will take care of it next time. I will not waste my money on prepping stuff”. I told him there will not be a next time for my help! But I know he would come back next time. So if there is a next time I will say “no” and then I know there will be a SHTF event on my front porch. I also look forward to a long term grid down event just to teach those lazy bastxxds a lesson. I do not expect a cyber attack but more of a wide spread explosive attack.

    1. @ No Joke
      Unfortunately your scenario is a difficult one indeed. Your neighbor knows he can push his way into your preps now to save his azz. And will again, as he stated. “I took care of it this time and I will take care of it next time.” I would take that as a threat and be very wary of him. He is the sort that if the SHTF really hard, he would “kill for his family” without concern for anyone. Good luck with this leach.

      This is a good lesson for all of us, OPSEC is very very important. A neighbor or “friend” will be your worse enemy.


    2. I agree with NRP. You need to be very wary of this neighbor. We also have a neighbor that is totally unprepared. We lost power after a major storm and he went to the neighbors house on the other side of him to ask for water after only 4 hours into the outage. We all have wells, but he also knew that neighbors on both sides of him have generators. This neighbor is my biggest concern. We have been very careful about revealing anything to him about our preps.

      1. The trick is — go to YOUR neighbors’ houses at the next power outage and ask for water, flashlight batteries, etc. Then they will think YOU are one of the unprepared and not bother you next time.

        1. That is funny and a seriously good idea if you are concerned that your OSPEC may have been blown, usually it is easy to pick out a prepping neighbor.

    3. What is your electric consumption and how many panels did it require to cover?

    4. I agree with the folks who are expressing concerns….You say he was rather forceful, suspect it will continue/increase in future, possibly worse situations.

      it sounds like you are prepped to stay where you are, in emergency, unfortunately the neighbors all know. Especially if you have solar which is visible, etc..

      not likely you are wanting/able to move, what might work, and I have heard of folks that live like this, normally.

      Get some outdoor video / sounds feeds going, so you can easily see/hear from the inside what is going on. Important to have your viewing site/maybe many viewing sites, so you can easlily monitor them without letting on that you are even home. This way, no need to answer door, etc.

      also, a big mean sounding dog (no need to be mean, but no need to let on that it is a softie either), helps to discourage folks from lingering. Especially if you can train dog to start to growl with intent, after the say second or third knock or doorbell ring. (hey, everyone should get one or two knocks or rings without growling in case you might want to talk to them.)

      I’ve read a few times now, that one of the problems with modern life, is folks feel obliged to answer their doors/phones, and often other feel they have a RIGHT to intrude and if you do not answer phone/door, you are a complete jerk. NOT so. Your privacy is your right/ your security/your sanity.

      1. been thinking about this neighbour….asking for batteries/flashlight/water may not cut it.

        he wants your freezer space…..
        next time power outs, run over with some frozen goods you desperately want to save, mention you are having trouble. Maybe save up some old goods to take over.

        1. Better yet, run over with a bag of ice, acting as serious as possible ….. the look on his face would be priceless.

      2. While I agree with not always having to answer your door, I do worry about my wife. For instance, let’s say I’m not home, and my wife decides to not answer the doorbell. If the people outside are casing my house and think that no one is home, they may try to forcibly enter. I don’t want that either. So I have trained my wife (actually, she is all for it) to show up at the door with a gun in her hand. There is a window to the right of the door, so whoever is at the door will immediately see that she does *not* want to be bothered, and they, in fact, are bothering her.

        Are there potential drawbacks to this? Yes. But it is the best option I can think of for our situation.

    5. You look forward to a grid down situation to teach the lazy bast$%^ds a lesson. I understand that. How do you feel about all the people on life support,oxygen tanks,diabetics that need refrigeration to keep insulin cold people that need electricity to heat or cool their house or they will die ect? Why anyone would look forward to or wish for a SHTF situation I will never understand. If the grid goes down for any length of time millions of people are going to die and not just the idiots that didn’t prepare

      1. that is why we prepare, if the other people do not think this can happen then why should we worry about them, I prep for my family, not the neighbor

  4. Like Spud, my first two thoughts were: see more stars, people actually communicating.

    For a few reasons, many a reality in “One Second After,” I would hope that the power comes back on before [whatever time it takes for people to decide there were things they wanted that did not belong to them.] But I do consider it a real threat and highly likely. I also hope that it would only be a clearly inappropriate tapping in and not a major hack.
    CIA Director John Brennan had previously denied that any such computer snooping had taken place. And, in what was widely seen as an embarrassing rebuke to Buckley, an agency accountability board appointed by Brennan in January overturned Buckley’s findings. The board found that while the tapping into the Senate computer system was “clearly inappropriate,” it was not the product of intentional wrongdoing by any agency officials and therefore no one should be punished. Michael Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent. August 5, 2015

  5. No joke…guess we got lucky. Our power has not gone out that long yet. Just off and on flickers. We did get letters asking us to cut down power usage during the day. So I suspected soon it might be longer outages. It is so hot here and pople are running their a/c units as cool as they can. Our bill has gone up quite a bit.

    If the power does go off for awhile, I do fear what will happen. Our temps are over 100 degrees.

  6. No ac would be a drag in this heat but of course have a backup generator for emergencies like any good prepped would. Last time the power was out I ran it for a couple of hours. Had tv and light on in the den which is in the back of the house so no windows showing light in the front of the house. However, about 2 weeks later while I was cutting the grass a neighbor was cutting his and said hey you have a generator, made me think about the sound a little more even though it is a small quiet generator. Looking at solar panels and wind generators for noise but worried about an emp which would probably fry the system. Put a brand new alternator in a Faraday cage to make a wind generator. Are there any ways to harden a solar system from emp attacks ?

    1. For those who live in a high heat, but dry (low humidity) environment there is a way to keep your home cool without burning fuel keeping an HVAC running.

      Look into ‘Evaporation Technology’. We called them swamp coolers while stationed in the desert while in the ‘Corps’.

      Uses very little energy, and it works good.

      1. I have had those “swampers” in the past, be ready to haul a LOT of water for them. Also most have a 1/2 or 3/4 HP motor, not as bad as an AC, but still a power hog. I would say a nice small personal fan.

        1. I came from a poor family. We lived in a semi-arid state (Colo) and when it got hot, we used squirt bottles filled with water to squirt ourselves — and each other. You would be surprised how much cooler you feel. You can squirt your dog too, but don’t try it with the cat.

        2. Sometimes the simplest solutions to problems can be very effective…

        3. also, works quite well…..

          wipe face/hands/arms/neck frequently with wet washcloth

          keep a wet washcloth rolled up around neck

          soak a sponge in water, roll in wet washcloth/towel and keep around neck

          wear a hat, and keep the hat soaked

      2. Lived in El Paso for many years and I agree. Just enough juice to run the pump and the house fan.

  7. I would strongly encourage everyone to go without electricity for a few days. Not just fridge, but everything. Realizing how dark a house gets at night, how dependent we are on our appliances….it is a HUGE eye opener. Even just glancing at the digital clocks or checking our email or grabbing a cold beverage….we are all sooooo dependent.

    The patience to build a fire and cook food and not have it right there, immediately for consumption or not require electronics to entertain us, or only making enough food to eat because you can’t keep it cool in fridge. Keeping cool without power is tricky. If you have kids then you might already know the comments of, “I’m bored” follow almost instantaneously when they are forced to turn off the TV. Do you have board games, books, colors, etc? I could go on and on.

    I think it is awesome that lots of preppers have ways to combat a grid down scenario, but in a more global event I think it is only responsible and possibly morally necessary to help of our fellow brothers and sisters in need. I’m not saying we have to give them a generator or anything like that, but showing others how to survive is important. I know, I know, we have all already warned our friends and families and they won’t listen. But, come on, we’re preppers…we don’t know what it means to give up. We survive and thrive and it is people like us that will need to guide and rebuild in a horrible event.

    You might have a generator and think you’ve got it all planned perfect, but even fuel for generators will eventually run out (unless of course you have a gassifier). But seriously, generators can break, be stolen, run out of fuel, etc. As can batteries. Deep cycle batteries for solar power will eventually die. We all need to really think long and hard about how to survive off the grid. Hopefully the grid stays strong, but bad things can happen and we need to be prepared. If not for us, then for our communities. Just my 2 cents.

    1. I agree Kynase. We have been through several outages that lasted a week, the last one being Sandy. Although we do have a small generator, its for powering the refrigerator. We store enough gas to run it for about 30 days to give us time to use up what is in the refrigerator, so it doesn’t go to waste. We pull out our camp stove to use for cooking and when propane runs out, we have a rocket stove. We use candles, oil lamps, and flashlights for lighting. We have 3 and 5 gallon containers of water which we put into the bathrooms with a bucket for flushing as we have a septic system, so gravity does the work. We play cards for hours at a time and catch up socially. It’s my preferred way to live, however everyone else in the house gets antsy after only a few hours.

    2. @ kinase
      Your timing of “I would strongly encourage everyone to go without electricity for a few days” is perfect, I just came off of my totally “off grid” long weekend. I do every 4-6 weeks. This is a good practice to see what’s “missing”. I don’t disconnect the power to the frig but I don’t use the kitchen appliances or house water. No vehicles or anything else that would “fry” in an EMP. It’s amazing how much water is needed even in a power outage situation. Hauling from a nearby lake for the toilet, drinking, bathing, dog, garden and so fourth is quite the job. I use the good old Coleman Camp stove for cooking, having over 50 gallons of Coleman is a plus. Light is via gas lantern and heat form a catalytic heater. So yes I highly recommend everyone do “off grid” weekends. And yes everything will run out, learn to cook what you may have over an open fire.

      Guiding and helping rebuild is a great idea. But I’m sorry I have to disagree with you on this —- “I think it is only responsible and possibly morally necessary to help of our fellow brothers and sisters in need” — Here is the problem, the first person you help will keep coming back for more and more. Just like No Joke’s neighbor. Demanding that No Joke put his meat in No Joke’s freezer. and further the neighbor stating “I took care of it this time and I will take care of it next time. I will not waste my money on prepping stuff”. Well guess what, there should have not been a first time, the meat should have been tossed into the street, and the neighbor told to leave. No Joke have already discussed prepping and they absolutely refused. Those are the people that WILL kill you for what you have. I do NOT have either a “responsibility or is it my moral necessity” to provide for anyone that refuses to care for themselves. I refuse to become a victim to someone that wants to “take” what I have worked years and years to be prepared, especially when they have been told and encouraged to do so.

      That simple event with No Joke and their neighbor should show you and everyone what WILL happen. Not only will the neighbor break down your door, but they WILL bring their family, their friends, and anyone else. Just taking what they want and if you don’t offer it, I will guarantee they will over-power or kill for your preps. You have to remember what the human animal will do to feed their family. What would you do so your child would survive?
      Just my 2¢ worth.

      1. AS I am now squarely cynical AND pessimistic about “how the neighbors will react” in a grid down or other emergency, I agree with NRP. Your “neighbors” can either be some best friends OR, worst enemies.

      2. Oh…I hear ya. I’m not at all denying that there will be those that will abuse any help provided. Heck, they are the gimme gimme population of lazy ass clowns. I just think that all of us need to look inward and really ask ourselves can we turn a blind eye to a person who is truly in need. It’s really easy to say that we can, but I don’t know if I can. I don’t think God wired me that way. Don’t get me wrong, I will OPSEC the best I can while I help, but I just don’t think I ignore those in need. I guess we shall see.

        1. I / we don’t turn a blind eye to those that are in need. My wife and I would have solar if not for our ‘Charity’ concerns.

          Bottom line is, ultimately you can’t help people that won’t help themselves.

          There are many out here that are perpetually in debt (gotta have the latest car/truck). Call it a live for today attitude.

          Well, after all we’re not talking about the poor here, we’re talking about people that despite certain advantages will not set a dime aside for the future (whether there’s a shift or not).

          What we’re talking about here is a catastrophe where a reality will exist that makes ‘Hell’ look like a picnic.

          Every expert (not government bought) will tell you that after an ‘EMP’ 90% of the population will perish by the end of the first year.

          During that time you will have a mass hysteria which will blow your mind.

          Go ahead help the parasites and morons. But you will not be amongst the people that can help each other to barter, rebuild, and flourish again.

          Your major preps should revolve around keeping yourself, family, and friends (those that buy in and contribute) alive until the vultures get done cleaning up.

          Prepping is not a game people. I’d be lying if I told you I’m ready.

          After all, as things stand now,,,, some of have to work so the rest can eat.

          “Kumbaya”, we are the world, why can’t we all just get along,,,, and the rest of the never ending BS.

    3. I have made the same suggestion on numerous occasions. I live in the mountains and get to live with no electricity several times each winter due to either snow or wind storms taking down lines. The longest was 11 days. It can really be an eye opener. Of course I get the added pleasure of several feet of snow most of the time when it happens. Let me tell you that unless you have been without lights in the middle of the mountains in a snow storm you don’t understand DARK lol. I have seen the times that I could not see the edge of my porch from my front door ( about 6-8 feet )

  8. We went through an outage which lasted 8 days due to an ice storm several years ago.

    During that period we gave up nothing,,, even showered everyday(generators). Of course, since we knew it was an area issue and would eventually be resolved those luxuries were possible.

    Since I rely solely on fossil fuels for power, a long term disaster (cyber attack, EMP, ect.) would obviously force us to conserve.

    For those of you that would like to take advantage of a ‘Shift’ event to bond with your fellow man I’ll leave you with the last sentence from my (Long Term Depression) post.

    “Develop a need for survival that transcends decency”.

    1. @ Sober
      Ok Ok, at times I’m not as smart or as well educated as I wish I think I am/was, so would you help me with that saying “Develop a need for survival that transcends decency”. I believe I think that I sort of maybe understand the implied meaning but not sore I have the actual proposed implications. If that makes sense? I could understand if you said “Develop the ability of survival that transcends decency” or “Develop the skills for survival that transcends decency”, But I don’t get Developing “a need”. Or maybe I just don’t get it?

      1. NRP

        No I said ‘need’ and I mean it. No mistake there.

        Lots of people practice and have ‘ability’ and ‘skill’,,,,, every young man who goes into actual combat have both and fortunately the Military is pretty good at developing the ‘Need’ in these young men.

        However, a small percentage of these people are unable to carry out the mission (should I explain that?). Now extrapolate this to our prepped community 9many of whom never benefited from that sort of training).

        My use of the word ‘Need’ is a mindset.

        1. Ahhhhh got it, “need” as in mindset, that makes perfect sense, Thanks Sober.

  9. Don’t under estimate the importance of power. Whether we lose in a cyber attack (which I highly agree will happen) or natural disaster. In 2011 a Halloween nor’easter hit Conn unexpectedly. Power in the state was lost on an average of 7 days, and those who lived in rural towns and community lost it up to 2 weeks. Electrical crews from far away as N.C and Georgia came to assist.

    I personal lost power for 7 days, I was very fortunate to have purchased a generator the year before and a have a switch box installed to run important items in the house. The house outlets had power in order to run fridges and oil furnace , and light fixtures. I only ran it when I was home. I only ran it when I was home and purchased tempered steel chain to prevent its theft.

    Fights broke out at gas stations in town that had power, police were stationed at these places while there open for business. The governor declared price fixing laws. Grocery store had long lines and very low products.

    Effected business stayed closed, people were unable to go to work. My kids schools were closed for 7 days in order to give shelter & food to those effected.

    I was prepared and helped those who helped me and my family in the past. So in short, People are people , but they revert to animalistic behaviors when put in stress full or life threatening situations to live. So I have seen it first hand and will all ways side with caution. Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.

  10. I’m learning to dry and smoke my food, I also have one of those deer-in-the-head=like-look neighbors and I’ll just come over here at your house brother-in-laws. But I continue to prep and continue to read and hope and pray that we will have what we need when it happens.

    1. I read on another site the perfect response to someone who gives you the “I’ll just come over to your house” line. Respond with this:

      “You can come over to my house in an emergency so long as you know the secret password.. The password is I’VE BROUGHT ENOUGH FOOD, WATER, GUNS, AND AMMO FOR ALL OF US!”

      Let us know what you’re brother in law says to that..

  11. Nothing of critical value should be connected to the web. Not data, not systems and not personal information. The programming languages and the web system design were created to allow a lot of freedom and much of it was intentionally created with back doors or things that were functionally the same as back doors. Have you ever had that popup that gives you the hard sell and when you try to exit it it keeps restarting or asking you “are you sure you want to leave this page”? Seriously what made some sales person think that bullying you was the way to sell you something? The web needs a total redesign with security being the first and only priority. In the mean time the federal and state governments need to remove all data and web access. Businesses can make their own decisions but they need to understand their risk and I’m not sure many do.

    1. Everything of critical value should be on the net.

      The internet is the last bastion of freedom left in the world. Imagine, if you’re a self reliant person having to hire an expert to get anything done.

      Not to worry, ‘Net Neutrality’ may just provide an answer to your wish.

      Look it up on the ‘Net’ while you still can.

  12. Swamp coolers are designed to work in low humidity areas.
    They use water to cool the air that is blown into the structure.
    High humidity areas (Florida, etc.) will not benefit at all, in fact it would make things worse by introducing more humidity.

  13. It was 5 straight years of power outages in the winter that got me into prepping originally. Not only was it misery, I would dread the thought of it the rest of the year. Power outages barely faze me now. It is a liberating feeling.

    The only thing I can’t do when the power is out is watch tv, which I don’t do anyway. lol.

  14. I have a generator but in an emp event it will be fried. Need to build a Faraday cage for it. Refrigerators would fry. TV’s would fry. Microwaves would fry. Everything that has ic chips would fry. I have a smoker and endless supply of wood, a fire pit with grill attachment so cooking is not an issue unless someone smells the food cooking. Get that point? Hoards will want what you have defense is mandatory,priority one. If you are not ready to defend you and your family will parish along with the 90%. Just a thought. It’s not a game!

    1. Thor –

      Electronic start, and extras,,, yes.

      If you’re required to exert effort to start it (pull rope), then you are probably OK.

      That’s why pre-1973 vehicles will run after the event.

      1. Sober, diodes or any ic chip will fry my generator is small hence pull cord. It will fry. Semiconductor material. Fridge’s have sensors & chips,you may be able to hot wire and bypass those circuits to make it function just stop it manually. I do have an electronic background but don’t have emp experience.

        1. Obviously they did not see my 2014 tax return… HAHAHAHAAH, or maybe I should be crying instead of laughing :-/

    1. CR –

      That’s an excellent point. I actually thought about ‘FEMA Camps’ the night this article came out and wished I had commented on it.

      Fact is though, the person’s that run to these areas wouldn’t have been a threat to the ‘Prepped Community’ anyway.

      Oh, and what an existence that will be.

      Anyway, the wolves roam now, and these camps, although numerous are ill equipped to handle the onslaught of humanity.

      I’ll remain prepared and vigilant for the disaster, and the subsequent human tidal wave to follow.

  15. I have several generators.. I like small engines so if and when I can get my hands on one and fix it I will.

    None of mine have “electronics” in them.

    Two I have dissembled the only regulating component was a
    very large capacitor.
    The huge yamaha gen did have electronics in it but that was a 6kw I think and used far more fuel than I liked so I gave it away when I moved, it had issues that were beyond me.
    And 6kw is too much power, waste for my needs in any situation.

    I have no reason to think they won’t work after a disaster, even emp.
    If they somehow demagnetize I can fix that easily enough without power, oil changes no issue, mechanical is not a problem if it’s not catastrophic failure.
    If anyone can “prove” why any older generator can’t/won’t run
    after CME/emp please explain.

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