San Jose, CA grid attack

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San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by spanningtree » Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:50 pm

I read about this in the WSJ this morning and needless to say it struck a chord. I am not a Fox News advocate but it's free (you need an account with WSJ to read articles).

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/02 ... utilities/

The WSJ article had quite a few more details. For instance: how the transformer oil filled cooling arrays were shot up, dumping the oil and subsequently heating the transformer to the point of failure. A total of 17 transformers were destroyed this way. Crazy! :shock:

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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by Das Sheep » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:29 pm

Yeah its pretty scary. I read about that a while ago.

A relatively small group of individuals could attack the grid by destroying transformers and taking down transmission lines with chainsaws and/or thermite could cripple large area's of the nations grid. In an age of open borders and evolving warfare our power grid is definitely at risk of tampering by enemies of our nation or extremists. It would suck to live in the north for an entire winter without power for most people I imagine.

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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by feedthedog » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:35 pm

It's somewhat encouraging that even with all of that effort, they failed to cause a blackout.

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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by Blast » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:19 pm

I have some vague memories from back in the early 90's about Paladin Press selling a book specifically about knocking out power substations with a .22
Does anyone else recall this?
-Blast

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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by JayceSlayn » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:40 pm

Here is another source too: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/201 ... rism-fears

Includes a substation surveilance video which supposedly shows sparks of bullets striking the fence. Steel-core ammo? I don't know the construction of the transformer oil housings, but I guess you would need some decent penetration to get into them.
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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Thu Feb 06, 2014 12:29 am

Blast wrote:I have some vague memories from back in the early 90's about Paladin Press selling a book specifically about knocking out power substations with a .22
Does anyone else recall this?
-Blast
There are much easier ways to do it. Demolition is merely a matter of understanding the system.
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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by KYZHunters » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:54 am

Blast wrote:I have some vague memories from back in the early 90's about Paladin Press selling a book specifically about knocking out power substations with a .22
Does anyone else recall this?
-Blast
I do; back when Art Bell hosted Coast to Coast he had some dude on that was warning against this saying that killing a handful of these unprotected and fairly remote sites could cause a cascade failure that could bring down the national grid. Of course, the next guest talked about alien mermen building the pyramids and helping the Union win the Civil War with as much conviction as the power grid guy so it was all just entertainment.
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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by gundogs » Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:07 am

Doctorr Fabulous wrote:
Blast wrote:I have some vague memories from back in the early 90's about Paladin Press selling a book specifically about knocking out power substations with a .22
Does anyone else recall this?
-Blast
There are much easier ways to do it. Demolition is merely a matter of understanding the system.
Really? Obtaining/making explosives is easier then obtaining rifle rounds?

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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by Das Sheep » Thu Feb 06, 2014 8:41 am

Right.
Last edited by Das Sheep on Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by shrapnel » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:10 am

*cough*
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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:40 am

gundogs wrote:
Doctorr Fabulous wrote:
Blast wrote:I have some vague memories from back in the early 90's about Paladin Press selling a book specifically about knocking out power substations with a .22
Does anyone else recall this?
-Blast
There are much easier ways to do it. Demolition is merely a matter of understanding the system.
Really? Obtaining/making explosives is easier then obtaining rifle rounds?
The .22 method is obsolete and thanks in part to a few jackasses who tried shutting down some power substations throughout the years (who's got a link to the guys who tried to blackout a substation on NYE Y2K?) everyone's taken some steps to make it a bit tougher. Better security, redundant systems. Someone who works in-field would know more about the changes and TTPs, but believe me we learned a wee bit about utilities sabotage when they put us up at the Kunjaki Dam. Just enough to figure out how to stop someone from breaking it.

ETA: that goes for everything printed by Paladin Press, The Anarchist Cookbook, or anything else sold in the back of SoF. Anything they print absolutely gets read, reviewed, and deconstructed and tested. You'd have to be an absolute twit to know that stuff was being published and not say "Maybe the FBI should review this stuff to update our threats list." The head of the FBI has never been that dumb.
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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by spanningtree » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:56 pm

feedthedog wrote:It's somewhat encouraging that even with all of that effort, they failed to cause a blackout.
After googling this specific incident quite a bit to find what I could I don't think a blackout was the point (IMHO). I think this was a test (by who I cannot even imagine, maybe SPECTRE with Jaws biting through the perimeter gate locks). These folks knew what they were doing. The layout of the attack, the timing, disabling localized communication, skirting law enforcement by minutes, attacking only the most costly/hard to replace assets... etc. There are not a lot of redundant provisions for large portions of metropolitan grids. If a four man team did this in less than a hour I have to wonder what a twelve man team could do with a distributed attack. One thing to keep in mind, the transformers they hit cost between $250K to $1M each and are not off the shelf items (IE: they are custom manufactured, not easily stocked or transported). The attackers took down 17 of them. Shrug... sucks to see an attack near your own AO with some intelligence behind it.

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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by crypto » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:35 pm

So I guess no one is thinking that this was some drunk dudes plinking at shit they should have? I shot at all kinds of ridiculous things with my BB gun when I was a kid that would be considered infrastructure terrorism now. My parents would have beat my ass for it if they had ever found out, and I probably would have gone to juvie if I had ever been caught.

ETA: Just reminding people about Hanlon's Razor, and how stupid shit seems fun at the time.
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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by spanningtree » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:55 pm

Yeah, I did some stupid s##t when I was a kid too. But, sneaking into two separate communications vaults in the area to cut communications cables was not one of them. Hell, L3 had the first indications something was up with their fiber cut. I would think there is a point where one steps beyond stupid kid/hunter/drunk to "gotz their shit together" happens. But, I guess Crypto, you were that kind of kid that we could call it okay and shrug it off.

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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by crypto » Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:05 pm

spanningtree wrote:Yeah, I did some stupid s##t when I was a kid too. But, sneaking into two separate communications vaults in the area to cut communications cables was not one of them. Hell, L3 had the first indications something was up with their fiber cut. I would think there is a point where one steps beyond stupid kid/hunter/drunk to "gotz their shit together" happens. But, I guess Crypto, you were that kind of kid that we could call it okay and shrug it off.
Whoa, I missed the part about breaking into the vaults, thats considerably worse.

But no, I was a little shit before my 'lawful good' impulse kicked in. I got my shit together at 19 right after I left college because I couldn't hack it, and my parents told me I wasn't too old to be a student but I was sure as hell too old to be a child living at home.

So it was sink or swim, and I didn't want to sink. I don't even speed now.
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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by yossarian » Fri Feb 07, 2014 12:31 am

gundogs wrote:
Doctorr Fabulous wrote:
Blast wrote:I have some vague memories from back in the early 90's about Paladin Press selling a book specifically about knocking out power substations with a .22
Does anyone else recall this?
-Blast
There are much easier ways to do it. Demolition is merely a matter of understanding the system.
Really? Obtaining/making explosives is easier then obtaining rifle rounds?

A few years ago I spent some time working with high voltage electricians. Some really smart guys that spend their days working around and distributing 13kv. On more than one occasion the vulnerabilities of the grid system came up in conversation. It wouldn't take explosives, or even firearms. The method that was mentioned specifically was very low-tech and very low cost. Basically Just timing and knowledge. Remember, the twin towers were brought down with box cutters and good planning.

I'll stop there because I don't want to get coughed at by Shrapnel, what with it being flu season and all :mrgreen:
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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by LastBoyScout » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:10 am

I work in the high end security business in this area. I know more than I care to say but perhaps you should read this:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ ... story.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

From the above link.


The attack did not seem to be the work of amateurs. The shell casings left behind were devoid of fingerprints, and there were piles of small rocks near where the snipers took their shots that may have been placed by a scouting team, the Journal said.

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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by Blast » Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:31 pm

I wonder if the attack was specifically done as part of a message to someone/some agency? You know, like a warning shot followed or preceded by an actual message. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a lot more information that wasn't released to the public.

What was happening last April that might make someone want to tell the USA to "back off"?

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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by RickOShea » Fri Feb 07, 2014 11:50 pm

JayceSlayn wrote:Here is another source too: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/201 ... rism-fears

Includes a substation surveilance video which supposedly shows sparks of bullets striking the fence. Steel-core ammo? I don't know the construction of the transformer oil housings, but I guess you would need some decent penetration to get into them.
The transformers, regulators, and oil-circuit recloser tanks are usually made of a mild (but pretty tough) steel. Up in the rural part of our service territory where there are a lot of hunting camps we find bullet dents in the distribution transformers all the time. Those soft point .270s and .30-06s just dent the tank and chip some of the paint off.

BUT, there are other parts, like the cooling fins and ceramic bushings, that don't react too well to bullets.
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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by JackBauer » Sat Feb 08, 2014 10:38 am

I was supporting a low Nox burner job in west virginia early nineties. There was a similar transformer failure. Plant believed it was disgruntled coal plant workers took it out with high powered rifle.
I do remember it took quite some time for Monongahela poeer to get a replacement transformer. While not as expensive as a turbine, the transformers are costly and time consuming to get. Plus they are situated outdoors which m a ke them a target.
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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by Kommander » Sat Feb 08, 2014 12:52 pm

This is a good analysis of this situation and he provides some links to other more in depth articles.
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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by TacAir » Sat Feb 08, 2014 10:33 pm

Meh - I'm old to remember the 1975 book "The Monkey-wrench Gang" (a paean to Eco-terrorism)....

From the Wiki -"Easily Abbey's most famous fiction work, the novel concerns the use of sabotage to protest environmentally damaging activities in the American Southwest, and was so influential that the term "monkeywrench" has come to mean, besides sabotage and damage to machines, any sabotage, activism, law-making, or law-breaking to preserve wilderness, wild spaces and ecosystems."

I note that a criminal act is just that, a criminal act.
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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by Ryder358 » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:41 pm

LastBoyScout wrote:The attack did not seem to be the work of amateurs. The shell casings left behind were devoid of fingerprints, and there were piles of small rocks near where the snipers took their shots that may have been placed by a scouting team, the Journal said.
This. I also read that it did not appear that shots were fired "willy-nilly" (technical term) but placed very accurately to drain the oil and cause a delayed failure but no explosions that might attract too much attention before the could escape.
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Re: San Jose, CA grid attack

Post by Akin » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:12 pm

One of the oddities of my employ with the City that I serve is that I frequently wind up at various power plants and whatnot that we own. The theory is that I would prevent acts of sabotage and theft and stuff.

Okay, okay, yeah, mainly theft... and yeah, most of it is either employee, or employee-related.

But anyway, seeing as how I have no small interest in this kind of thing, you might expect that I'd be briefed up and smug in my knowledge of what really happened, as opposed to what's being released to the common folk.

Nope.

I have heard not one word about this through any kind of official channel. One would think that Officialdom would conclude that ensuring that those of us who are actually tasked with protecting this kind of "critical infrastructure", as it's called, would be high on the "need to know" list. Nope. I didn't know this had occurred at all until it started popping up on my facebook feed.

*sigh*
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