Twenty-two Lines of Software Code

Lt. Gen. William Lord, Air Force chief of warfighting integration, used a short video Jan. 21 during his Air Force Association-sponsored Air Force Breakfast Series presentation in Arlington, Va., to illustrate the havoc that non-kinetic attacks can wreak. In the video, a large two-megawatt power generator simulating a portion of the US electrical grid begins malfunctioning during a US government exercise in Idaho. The reason: Using just 22 lines of software code, red team cyber attackers located more than 800 miles away were able to overwhelm the generator’s circuit breakers, causing the generator to break down. “Non-kinetic power that produces a kinetic effect,” explained Lord, noting that the net effect was like a 2,000-pound bomb exploding near the generator. He said this example exemplifies why the Air Force requires a robust network that can prevent such cyber attacks from hobbling its own systems. Continue