US cyber officials say their biggest concern is that a simple click of the mouse will lead to catastrophic physical destruction of property. What happened at Russia’s Shushenskaya Hydroelectric Power Plant in Siberia in 2009 is the perfect example, said Maj. Gen. David Senty, chief of staff for US Cyber Command. Senty told audience members at AFA’s CyberFutures Conference in National Harbor, Md., last week that one of the plant’s operators caused “catastrophic failure” that led to “huge loss of life,” when he remotely activated one of the turbines that had been taken off line because it was past its service life. The turbine “spun up, went wacky, and destroyed the power plant,” which was the sixth largest in the world at the time, said Senty during his April 1 address. He added that there are “a lot of implications for cyber today,” including the question of whether “our knowledge of how capable these electrons are is really significant.” (See also Destruction Over the Net)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.