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How to prepare for a potential Syrian counterattack on the U.S. Power Grid

Rob Enderle | Sept. 9, 2013
It isn't yet time to stock up on canned beans and bottled water, but a potential conflict with Syria--which hasn't been shy about attacking vulnerable U.S. infrastructure--should have your organization reviewing its disaster-preparedness plans.

Contingency plans would need to be in place before an event so everyone is more likely to emerge from it safely.

Assess Disaster Preparedness Now - And Don't Count on Help
This isn't a short-term problem. America's electrical infrastructure is in bad shape. Large-scale weather events such as Hurricane Sandy hit cellular networks and the power grid both far and wide. Groups as varied as hostile nations and anarchists are increasingly gaining the skills necessary to do significant damage.

The federal government is not willing to fund needed infrastructure upgrades. Before the U.S. starts shooting missiles at countries with strong cyberattack teams, it should harden U.S. infrastructure, but betting the government will do the smart thing has been a losing proposition of late.

All of this suggests, then, that putting major data centers near large hydroelectric sites to assure power (as Google has done) or focusing on alternative energy sources (as is the case with Apple's planned new headquarters) to assure the sites can remain operational during extended outages. You'll have to think through network transport, though; if these sites can't connect, you're still in trouble. Having failover capability in another country, such as Canada, would be advised.

Thinking strategically, the only approach that may work in countries with vulnerable infrastructure or unstable government may be an arcology. This eventual evolution of self-sustained architecture and ecology blends corporate and personal living structures, assuring that both people and equipment are safe and recognizing that an inability to protect either could result in company failure. Arcology continues to advance worldwide, but clearly they are needed most where there's a broad risk to infrastructure and/or employee safety.

In the meantime, review your disaster preparedness plans to assure they adequately address large regional or national power outages. This often makes the difference between surviving a catastrophe and becoming a statistic. If people have a plan that they know works, they're less likely to panic and do dangerous, stupid things. Don't put this off.


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