back to article What's the biggest danger to the power grid? Hackers? Terrorists? Er, squirrels

For decades now people have been claiming that the power grid could be taken down by terrorists. However, simple statistical analysis shows that the biggest danger isn't online hackers, but squirrels – aka rats with good PR. Cris Thomas, a strategist at Tenable Network Security who goes by the moniker Space Rogue, has been …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me

    My army of squirrels are primed and ready to find the acorns I've planted in the power grid - please pay 100 Bitcoins or else......

    1. Tim Seventh

      Well, let's hope only one hamster of my millions ate the acorns. Otherwise, I think the power is already out...

    2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

      That's just nuts

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        I guess the terrorist squirrels don't work for peanuts then... I'm glad there's very few acorns (very few oak trees in the mountains around here).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why destroy them?

    Just program the smart meters in an area to flip load on-off in a pre-programmed pattern. Then do it again after the grid has been brought up (it may take days to do that by the way). And again. Viva la smart metering - the greatest act of calamitous self-harm one can do to itself with the current grid designs.

    While it is a bit more difficult now, because the resistive loads of yesteryear from lights and heaters are mostly gone, it is still doable today.

    I remember my dad doing the math for this once every few years (as the grid changed) in the 1980-1990es in one small (and nowdays NATO) country. I helped him with the software parts for some of the models. We got pretty good money too.

  3. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    In Kenya a monkey triggered a major blackout by falling on the transformer in a substation a while ago :)

    Beat that, Mr Squirrel! :)

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      If you check out cybersquirrel1.com you can search by time, and find that in January 2016 alone, there was a dozen squirrel related power incidents.

      Monkeys are amateurs by comparison.

      Is it time for elReg to provide us with a cybersquirell threat icon?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Storks beat monkeys

      In 2000, a stork got itself electrocuted and managed to make half of Portugal, including it's capital, go dark for a couple of hours (https://www.publico.pt/destaque/jornal/e-ao-principio-foi-a-cegonha-143727 and https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apag%C3%A3o_no_sul_de_Portugal_em_2000 - both in portuguese)

      1. nicksandru

        Re: Storks beat monkeys

        I was born - quite a long time ago - in the middle of an outage caused by a stork that had flown into the wires at a transformer station, plunging a whole city of 1.5 million into darkness. Some say it was the stork that brought me...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    Treasonous Squirrels

    Most likely Russian agents trained to undermined the west, have any of them been checked for computers which may or may not have hacking equipment installed on them?

    1. hplasm
      Coat

      Re: Treasonous Squirrels

      Er, wouldn't those be Red Squirrels..?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Red Squirrels

        Er, wouldn't those be Red Squirrels..?

        You, sir, win the Internet

      2. GrapeBunch

        Re: Treasonous Squirrels

        In all likelihood, they are Eastern Gray Squirrels, Sciurus carolinensis. Red squirrels tend to be retiring. "East" being the direction of many threats, and "Gray" the colour of heartless bureaucracy, maybe this appellation could win the Internet, before destroying it. I rather like Red Squirrels. Hate Eastern Grays and imposition of smart meters with a passion. I would not be a good Buddhist. See, on the Report Card, the Buddhism tea-cha wrote "Lacks compassion. Could do better".

    2. breakfast Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Treasonous Squirrels

      The only computers they use are Acorns.

      Consequently they are heavily ARMed.

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Treasonous Squirrels

      I think you mean moles.

    4. Sureo

      Re: Treasonous Squirrels

      Don't you know, they have an entire wing at Guantanamo Bay for squirrels that caused acts of sabotage (and survived). :)

  5. jake Silver badge

    No birds dropping bread?

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/05/lhc_bread_bomb_dump_incident/

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: No birds dropping bread?

      Birds dropping bread is a minor issue.

      A Vulture or another large bird of prey taking a dump - different story. It is actually part of the design brief for substations in North America and other places where these can be found to be bird sh*t proof.

      Think of the wonderful present from the friendly wood pidgeon or seagull which has graced your windshield. Multiply by at least 10 (if not 100) and make it a bit more runny. Apply between wires carrying 600KV. Enjoy the fun.

      By the way - the standard British substation designs _ARE_ _NOT_. As we reintroduce more and more birds of prey and their population recovers we are going to see some fun.

      Me coat (the one with the big torch and the candles in the pocket).

  6. frank ly

    Misunderstanding

    "... a bird that was collecting acorns in a microwave dish, eventually amassing 300lb of the things, ..."

    Was it a misguided attempt to cook them?

    1. Alister

      Re: Misunderstanding

      Was it a misguided attempt to cook them?

      Yeah, a bird with a bit of class, it wanted proper roast acorns, none of your cheap microwaved rubbish...

      Oh, wait...

    2. Alan J. Wylie
      1. Hero Protagonist

        Re: Video of the acorns being emptied

        Like Captain Kirk opening the grain storage bin full of tribbles

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    a "democracy-ending event."

    Some would say the new President will do that all by himself.

    BTW Wasn't the US (military or CIA) reputed to be looking at this in Viet Nam for deniable low intensity destruction of infrastructure. I think they were looking at training rats to gnaw on power line insulation in preference to other things.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: a "democracy-ending event."

      Just drop some termites - they will eat all sorts of materials, even those with no nutritional value. For unknown reasons electrical/data cables are very attractive nibbles.

      http://electricalconnection.com.au/keeping-termites-bay/

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: a "democracy-ending event."

      "BTW Wasn't the US (military or CIA) reputed to be looking at this in Viet Nam for deniable low intensity destruction of infrastructure."

      Sounds like they dropped the idea? Impractical because most places there didn't have infrastructure as we would know it?

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    Did anyone else read that as "Terrible Network Security" ?

    Just me then, although I think that is the case for a lot of SME's.

  9. Dr. Mouse

    In 2015, a fox shorting out a substation in Utah caused an outage that shut down an oxygen machine and led to the death of a patient.

    In an era where all but the least important servers are protected by UPS, shouldn't a life-critical machine have a backup power supply?! Surely it wouldn't be too difficult to include a few hours of emergency power into it....

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      And how would you know it's working when you REALLY need it? Murphy's Law would mean the thing works EXCEPT when the power cuts out, then it suffers a fault and shuts down resulting in an impossible-to-predict Failsafe Failure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: when you REALLY need it?

        "And how would you know it's working when you REALLY need it? "

        Well, back in the day when IT was a service to the business, rather than an empire for the Emperor of IT, people used to actually test things.

        Got failover storage? Pull some cables and see what happens? Do it regularly, and check that the fail back (ie return to previous operating config) works too.

        Got failover power ? See above.

        Got a DR site/DR plan? See above.

        Etc.

        It's not rocket science, but as you and others have clearly shown, it seems to be a forgotten era for a great many people. Perhaps because it costs money (even though actually it should be a good investment) while producing little visible increase in the size of the Empire.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: re: when you REALLY need it?

          "Got failover storage? Pull some cables and see what happens? Do it regularly, and check that the fail back (ie return to previous operating config) works too."

          But with Murphy's Law, the device will PASS the testing, then FAIL when the actual emergency hits because the only thing that can actually duplicate the full conditions of an actual emergency is an actual emergency.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: re: when you REALLY need it?

            "But with Murphy's Law, the device will PASS the testing, then FAIL ..."

            On numerous occasions it is the test which accidentally sets up the next failure. You do a manual override for the test - and forget to put it back into "auto" afterwards. You pull a cable - which gets damaged when you re-insert it. The back up generator doesn't get its fuel replenished and conks out in a real emergency.

            If is a humbling lesson to learn that in real life:

            There are a finite number of things you can think of that might go wrong ....and an infinite number that can go wrong.

          2. rhydian

            Re: re: when you REALLY need it?

            Many a company has found out that simply switching the power off to the server doesn't replicate a power cut properly. There's always one rack, router, switch or other minor bit of kit (NTE for fibre or EFM lines are usually good bets) that someone's plugged in to the unprotected mains "just for now" that doesn't stay up when the supply goes off.

            The other classics are generators that only have enough diesel for a few minutes running (because some berk forgot to wire the fuel lift pumps to the UPS) or having the whole IT infrastructure hooked up the generator, but not the air handling plants...

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: re: when you REALLY need it?

              or having the whole IT infrastructure hooked up the generator, but not the air handling plants...

              [X] Supply for computer room via UPS, [X} supply for computer room cooling via UPS, [ ] cooling for UPS itself ...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: re: when you REALLY need it?

                "X] Supply for computer room via UPS, [X} supply for computer room cooling via UPS, [ ] cooling for UPS itself ..."

                IIRC a server room was in a low lying area with potential flooding. They discovered one day that the water pumps were only on direct mains power.

          3. Tom Paine

            Re: re: when you REALLY need it?

            If you've ever heard grizzled on BCP / DR hands yarning late at night,.. I'm sure I remember hearing many such "but it worked when we tested it!" stories, either because the failure mode was different than that tested, or the surrounding environment was different, or just simple bad luck. ISTR working at a place where there was a genny soaktest for like six hours or something, powering a few small campus offices with a couple of server rooms. All fine. Unfortunately the following week a bit of backhoe fade took out the HT lines to the business park for real, and no-one had got round to topping up the diesel tanks after the test...

    2. dc_m

      I thought hospitals all had generators?

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Boffin

        I thought hospitals all had generators?

        Not all life-supporting equipment is in hospitals.

  10. Anonymous Blowhard

    Die Hard 5 - This Time its Squirrels!

    Looks like politicians are getting cyber-warfare "knowledge" from Die Hard 4.0, just like they got their "liquid explosives" information from Die hard 2.

    I'll go and put on a clean vest, just in case...

  11. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Only 15?

    If a group of people, suitably motivated, can get to pilot two airliners simultaneously into a building, merely blowing up 15 substations would seem to be entirely possible.

    The resulting chaos would make whatever-their-foolish-point is quite effectively.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Only 15?

      Even in a world where all the substations are heavily protected, those cables aren't underground you know.

      How long does it take to remove a destroyed pylon and replace it exactly?

      1. Swiss Anton

        Re: Only 15?

        This may be obvious, (and I've had more than a few sleepless nights over the last decade or more worrying about it), but the phrase "careless talk costs lives" springs to mind. Lets hope ISIS aren't readers of the Reg.

        Occasionally self censorship can be good thing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Only 15?

          Self censorship? Careless talk costs lives?

          How much 'intelligence' do you need to read an Ordnance Survey map, know where the important transmission lines are (GW-scale power stations are hard to hide), and find some conveniently located Toolstations or similar (or just insecure building sites).

          Taking out the UK grid for an extended period (blackstart, anyone?) would be trivially easy. I'm astounded it hasn't been done already. I can only imagine that people don't want to, for some reason.

          1. Tom Paine

            Re: Only 15?

            The IRA would have worked it out in the end; their later bombing campaigns in Britian (early 90s) were nominally about economic damage (the Bishopsgate, Canary Wharf and Brent Cross truck bombs). Fortunately, -- well, Google "The Grugq IRA" and take it from there...

            These days (I believe) the various bodies interested in the security of CNI have thought about this, and done things about it.

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Only 15?

        How long does it take to remove a destroyed pylon and replace it exactly?

        The issue is not the time to replace it. Same goes for the substations.

        The issue is that generating capacity will have to go offline and in emergency dump mode. If you take offline using the emergency procedure a large coal or nuclear power plant it will take days to reconnect it and you need to bring things up slowly bit by bit as the capacity comes online. You also risk damage if you go offline in emergency mode - after the grid collapses not _ALL_ of the capacity will be coming back without repairs.

        If you hurry to bring it back online because you have the politicos breathing down your neck you are likely to overload the system, it will go into emergency dump mode again and you need to start from scratch. With some more damage to account for.

        This is where wind, hydro and other renewables are quite handy by the way - most of them are on/off nearly instantaneously, while they cannot carry the grid on their own they can definitely help you balance the load while you are bringing the capacity online.

      3. Tom Paine

        Re: Only 15?

        I've thought about this quite a bit. It wouldn't take long to replace even one of the 400 kV pylons -- a day or two perhaps? Now imagine that a large urban area that only has, say, 15 or 20 lines carrying power from the grid to the comedy beard-wearing craft beer swilling bread-whittling masses of the big city, and they're all knocked out simultaneously. How'd you think Paris*, say for instance, would look after 10 days without power?

        * I have no clue whether NYC is vulnerable to this sort of attack. I'm just puzzled why more of those long range transmission lines aren't buried...

        (Edit: the UK, I believe, has mitigations in place for attacks on the electricity grid. Hopefully we'll never get to find out if they work or not.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Only 15?

          "Now imagine that a large urban area that only has, say, 15 or 20 lines carrying power from the grid"

          No need to imagine. Just observe relevant public domain information, and learn. Don't assume.

          "the UK, I believe, has mitigations in place for attacks on the electricity grid."

          Any references readily available? I'll understand if not.

          Here's an example from 2008 of what happened when two unrelated incidents a few minutes apart cut off around 1.5GW of input to the UK grid (and the grid's response for hours afterward wasn't quite as expected, according to the Grid's own published analysis):

          http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7423169.stm

          "[...]Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across London, Cheshire, Merseyside and East Anglia lost power.

          Blackouts were caused by Sizewell B nuclear plant in Suffolk and Longannet coal-fired station in Fife going off-line within minutes of each other.

          [...]"

          https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/docs/2008/07/national_grid__system_events_of_27_may_for_dswg_16_july.pdf

          Readers who enjoyed coverage of the 2008 incident may also enjoy this writeup of two separate incidents in 2003 affecting larege numbers of customers across a wide area, one incident in London, one in the West Midlands

          http://www.rae.gr/old/cases/C13/london/OFGEM_PB_london_v1.pdf

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Only 15?

          "* I have no clue whether NYC is vulnerable to this sort of attack. I'm just puzzled why more of those long range transmission lines aren't buried..."

          Burying cables has tradeoffs, especially for longer distances, harder ground, and maintenance concerns. (Buried cable is MUCH more expensive, both in installation and maintenance, gets worse if you have to deal with harder ground, and doesn't lend itself well to upgrading). And IINM it gets more complicated when you're talking high-voltage transmission lines because now you have to take other things into consideration.

  12. Doctor_Wibble
    Windows

    Or a shovel through a fibre/wire bundle

    OK I know it's not an animal* but in the 'more cyber damage than terrorists' stakes, I recall 15+/- years ago a chunk of London-near-Old-Street and more lost its interwebs when a mechanical digger vigorously encountered a bit of fibre (or possibly wire bundle) and that cut off a *lot* of people. Same thing nowadays would be serious devastation as it's all expanded somewhat and I doubt the multiple path (lack thereof) has been addressed unless someone got fired the first time.

    .

    * though it might be an alien in disguise, would that count?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Or a shovel through a fibre/wire bundle

      A few years ago a storm in the UK blew down one microwave tower out of the many possible ones in that affected region. Our Ops manager knew immediately that it was the single point of failure in a customer's otherwise resilient multiple diversity comms path.

      The customer had been warned that the weakness would exist - just for a few months - until a new alternative was to be built.

    2. An0n C0w4rd

      Re: Or a shovel through a fibre/wire bundle

      My favourite RFO* from a telco was that they found shotgun pellets embedded in the fibre. Someone had been taking pot shots at some fauna and had taken out the fibre instead. I guess it must have been hung from telephone poles, but can't remember to be honest

      Yes, this was in the land where the 2nd amendment is used to justify way too much

      * RFO = Reason For Outage

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        @An0n C0w4rd -- Re: Or a shovel through a fibre/wire bundle

        It's more common than you think. Joe Hunter gets bored, has a few beers in the woods, and starts shooting insulators on the power poles. It's been happening less but still happens too often.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Or a shovel through a fibre/wire bundle

        "Someone had been taking pot shots at some fauna"

        Nope.

        Some cretins like to blast away at cables.

        I've worked for telcos and this kind of RFO is depressingly common.

      3. Tom Paine

        Re: Or a shovel through a fibre/wire bundle

        (Clue's in the URL)

        http://blog.level3.com/level-3-network/the-10-most-bizarre-and-annoying-causes-of-fiber-cuts/

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Or a shovel through a fibre/wire bundle

          That one is missing one more. Car fires.

          Quite a lot of telcos especially in France (including Level3 primary fiber routes into and out of France) have fiber running along the motorways in relatively shallow ducts. So when a car ends up on fire next to the road it also kills the fiber. Happens in other countries too, just less often.

    3. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Or a shovel through a fibre/wire bundle

      "(or possibly wire bundle) and that cut off a *lot* of people"

      If you are referring to an incident that happened in the late 90's, then it was a fibre bearer - 150 bundles iirc. Oh, and yes, the people who had purchased divergent connectivity were none to pleased to discover it wasn't.

      It was odd seeing all the alerts come in. 5 red lights....15 red lights......screen full of red lights OMG WHAT HAPPENED TO LONDON!!! ;)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Or a shovel through a fibre/wire bundle

        There was a case of a field somewhere in the Midlands of the UK that had two BT? main route fibres crossing it. A JCB took out both links even though they had some physical separation.- which apparently cut the country in half.

      2. Doctor_Wibble

        Re: Or a shovel through a fibre/wire bundle

        > If you are referring to an incident that happened in the late 90's

        No, this one was early 2000s though the idea that it's happened before (and will again, obv.) doesn't come as much surprise...

  13. nsld

    The local squirrels down here in deliverance

    Like to get a little jolt from chewing the phone line, its not enough damage to kill voice but it really stuffs up ADSL.

  14. Stevie

    Bah!

    "For decades now people have been claiming that the power grid could be taken down by terrorists. "

    a) Decades? Really?

    2) A local substation outage or a line down does not remotely constitute "taking down the grid".

    $) Decades of shortsighted management, replacing decades of engineering knowledge specific to the business of power generation and distribution with software written by programmers with a total disconnect with the actual business, and refusal to invest in new infrastructure that doesn't replace knowledge base with IT do more to threaten the grid than any othr factors.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah!

      "2) A local substation outage or a line down does not remotely constitute "taking down the grid"."

      Yes it does, in fact. The problem is that failures cascade, and NO ONE wants to build backup capacity that never gets used and costs money the customers aren't willing to pay. BOTH Northeast Blackouts started with a fault in a single substation that caused another down the line to overload, causing the next one to overload, and so on until a sizeable chunk of the US (including notably New York City) is without power.

      1. Stevie

        Re: Bah!

        No, the 2004 northeast blackout started because the people running a power company in Ohio didn't know how to do that, having had all their actual power grid expertise fired and replaced by ... IT.

        That is why they took down their only reactive power generation facility for maintenance at the height of reactive load season, ignored field reports of shorts and fires on the now overloaded lines (because the - stalled - computer instrumentation said "nothing wrong here") and when they finally got a clue started running their playbook (not a euphemism, they had an actual book) from the wrong page because no-one considered that the downed reactive power facility had already put them in a "class one" failover.

        The cascade blackout was entirely unnecessary and could have been avoided had anyone in the Ohio control room understood the business they were in charge of and taken some simple, widely known, industry standard mitigation steps at some point in the hours of warning signs they had.

        2004 pretty much informed my original post, and the official report on what, when and why is clear and interesting reading if you care to look it up.

        Substations fail all the time. Cascades do not happen when they do. Yes the aging grid is vulnerable. It is not, however, that fragile.

        Apologies for late response. Vacation, illness, work etc.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Bah!

          "The cascade blackout was entirely unnecessary and could have been avoided had anyone in the Ohio control room understood the business they were in charge of and taken some simple, widely known, industry standard mitigation steps at some point in the hours of warning signs they had."

          Thing is, it spread BEYOND Ohio, meaning it wasn't JUST Ohio that was in trouble since the mitigations THERE failed, too. Plus there's the earlier 1960's blackout, which we KNOW started with ONE substation and cascaded.

  15. An0n C0w4rd

    Soldiers unaware of the Faraday cage

    "In the same year, three Sri Lankan soldiers were electrocuted after a squirrel caused a fire that broke power lines – causing them to fall on the soldiers' vehicle."

    From what I understand, the soldiers who died got out of the vehicle, and were therefore electrocuted. The other soldiers in the same vehicle who stayed inside survived.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Soldiers unaware of the Faraday cage

      Sounds better. I would've thought the vehicle wouldn't readily conduct the power from a fallen wire. See, I've been told a vehicle is actually one of the better places to hide out in an electrical storm; the air-filled rubber tires put a layer of insulation between the vehicle and the ground, reducing the risk of a direct discharge.

  16. Runty Dog
    Devil

    Nut jobs

    Two loons with a bit of readily available explosives nearly got away with dropping the communication grid in 1961. As it was, it took Ma Bell & the US government over six days to re-establish AT&T Long Lines' transcontinental relay network. http://www.beatriceco.com/bti/porticus/bell/longlines-expdam.html

    In 1988 on Mother's Day the Bell system suffered a knee to the groin from a single point of failure, dropping cross country & local communications into the dumpster: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1989-03-11/news/8903250918_1_state-fire-marshal-alarm-electrical-power

    A disgruntled employee with an axe & a pack of matches dropped the US air traffic control system into the bin: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/news/ct-nvs-faa-report-reaction-st-1002-20150930-story.html

    Our infrastructure is not as robust as we would like, but in each case the people directly affected overcame the problems. And not because some pin head, pencil pushing, government administrator came up with a study identifying probable threats. As the squirrel study shows, the real problems come from diverse random events, and are not predictable. It's usually some nut job (squirrels included) acting out that causes all the havoc.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Nut jobs

      "Our infrastructure is not as robust as we would like, but in each case the people directly affected overcame the problems. And not because some pin head, pencil pushing, government administrator came up with a study identifying probable threats. As the squirrel study shows, the real problems come from diverse random events, and are not predictable. It's usually some nut job (squirrels included) acting out that causes all the havoc."

      Which is why the reports notes what could happen if someone got SERIOUS about sabotaging the US. If one nutjob can bork a chunk of the US for a day or two, imagine a group with 9/11 levels of resources? Or worse, a State using it as the prelude to a Decapitation attack?

    2. J P
      Pint

      Re: Nut jobs

      Up voted for use of the term "nut job" to describe squirrels

    3. Tom Paine

      Re: Nut jobs

      Thanks for the links, hadn't heard those before and I love a good incident story.

      As the squirrel study shows, the real problems come from diverse random events, and are not predictable.

      Well, but. Without getting too Foundation about it, you can't predict that squirrel #2897467 will break cable #230487 at 17:42 on 15th May 2017, but I imagine the incidence of squirrel attacks stays reasonably constant (or constant with respect to the size of the squirrel population, anyway); and if it's happening dozens of times a year, it's clearly 100% predictable that "squirrels will have a go at infrastructure *like this*, even if it's not this particular box or cable". Evidently hardening fibre or copper cable against incisor attack is too expensive to be worth it. Not many squirrels live underground, though...

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Nut jobs

        Yes, because squirrels are rodents like rats. And if you'll recall, rats are notorious for being able to chew through well-nigh anything, including cinder block and metal. And squirrels have an edge over rats in their great leaping ability and propensity to reach. That's why they're a handful around seed feeders. IOW, if they want in, they'll find a way in in spite of God, Man, or the Devil.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Nut jobs

        "Not many squirrels live underground, though..."

        I beg to differ. Quite the opposite, in fact. See: Xerinae for more ...

  17. Huns n Hoses

    The wrong sort of teeth

  18. Howard Hanek
    Linux

    How Disconcerting

    Rocket J. Squirrel cast as a 'domestic terrorist'? Will liberals stoop THAT low? Our beloved cheerful hero conspiring with his antlered sidekick to reduce us all to the living conditions in Frostbite Falls?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is why Doreen Green was put on the no-fly list.

  20. Deebster

    I like that The Register posts a video that complains about The Register's inaccurate reporting (see slide at 05:37).

  21. veti Silver badge

    In proportion

    Does no-one remember ANYfuckingthing from more than a few weeks ago any more?

    Eight deaths? In 35 years? Boo hoo. In 2003, one software bug in the grid system - in America - killed 12 people in 2 days. Reference.

    Software engineers - and, by extension, hackers - are way, way more dangerous than any number of rodents.

  22. Alan Brown Silver badge

    The real danger isn't terrestrial

    "Shutting down the grid long term would take the physical destruction of equipment, not just computer hacking."

    Two words: Carrington Event.

    Two more: Canada 1989

    1. J P

      Re: The real danger isn't terrestrial

      Apologies to those who've seen me post this link before - Lloyd's of London have done some modelling on the likely impact of a Carrington Event - you can find the pdf to download here: https://www.lloyds.com/~/media/lloyds/reports/emerging%20risk%20reports/solar%20storm%20risk%20to%20the%20north%20american%20electric%20grid.pdf

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The real danger isn't terrestrial

        "modelling on the likely impact of a Carrington Event"

        Interesting, thank you, not seen that document before although I'm aware of the original Carringto event and the much more recent Quebec one.

        I've not read it properly yet but for those who might be interested, It should probably be pointed out that the scientific analysis was done *on behalf of* (not "by") Lloyds. Small but important distinction.

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