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(Vice)   The US DOE has seized a 250-ton electrical transformer and no one knows why. Don't worry, top men are working on it. Top men   (vice.com) divider line
    More: Strange, Security, Transformer, Chinese high-voltagetransformer, Sandia National Laboratories, Computer security, United States Department of Energy, National security, supply chain security threats  
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1814 clicks; posted to Fandom » on 23 Sep 2020 at 6:20 PM (4 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



31 Comments     (+0 »)
 
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2020-09-23 5:00:47 PM  
I'm betting you can do more damage to the electrical grid with a couple hundred bucks spent at your local party supply than you can hiding a device in a millions-of-dollars transformer.
 
2020-09-23 5:03:33 PM  
Although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which, unlike DOE, is an independent regulatory agency, has long had CEII rules in place related to the bulk power grid...

It's not news, it's FERC...
 
2020-09-23 5:04:32 PM  
Somebody didn't pay the vig.
 
2020-09-23 5:05:47 PM  

Unobtanium: Although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which, unlike DOE, is an independent regulatory agency, has long had CEII rules in place related to the bulk power grid...

It's not news, it's FERC...


Ermahgerd, it's ferk dirt kerm.
 
2020-09-23 5:11:49 PM  

UberDave: I'm betting you can do more damage to the electrical grid with a couple hundred bucks spent at your local party supply than you can hiding a device in a millions-of-dollars transformer.


You don't grasp the true power of the AllSpark.
 
2020-09-23 6:16:23 PM  

UberDave: I'm betting you can do more damage to the electrical grid with a couple hundred bucks spent at your local party supply than you can hiding a device in a millions-of-dollars transformer.


I think you could wait for a windy day, scatter leaves near a power plant, and stand a good chance at blacking out half the country.
 
2020-09-23 6:38:32 PM  
If they're trying to disrupt the grid I bet the transformer had a 50 ton squirrel hidden inside.
 
2020-09-23 7:04:21 PM  
Sounds like an SCP
 
2020-09-23 7:08:27 PM  
I don't know much about high voltage transformers but a backdoor? A transformer in itself has no circuitry. Maybe high voltage is a different beast but at least in lower voltage the control or switching elements are separate from the transformer itself, which is just a bunch of wires.

It's certainly an odd story.
 
2020-09-23 7:09:48 PM  

UberDave: I'm betting you can do more damage to the electrical grid with a couple hundred bucks spent at your local party supply than you can hiding a device in a millions-of-dollars transformer.


Our power infrastructure is fragile AF. I feel for the Good Guys trying to keep a lid on it.
 
2020-09-23 7:11:31 PM  
Female deer aren't known for their electrical engineering acumen.
 
2020-09-23 7:19:10 PM  

UncleDirtNap: If they're trying to disrupt the grid I bet the transformer had a 50 ton squirrel hidden inside.


Or a raccoon.  I don't know why those little buggers are trying to kill us, after all the garbage that we set out for them.
 
2020-09-23 7:25:26 PM  

UberDave: I'm betting you can do more damage to the electrical grid with a couple hundred bucks spent at your local party supply than you can hiding a device in a millions-of-dollars transformer.


Well, a bit more than that, but yeah.  Hell, just set loose some balloons dragging wires.  You'll short shiat out left and right.

Then there is the old "shoot zee transformers with zee 7.62x39mm rifles" ploy.  They never did catch who did that.
 
2020-09-23 7:32:51 PM  
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Unavailable for comment.
 
2020-09-23 7:38:24 PM  
 
2020-09-23 8:22:34 PM  
"The directive aims to keep critical equipment supplied by foreign adversaries out of the nation's power grid"

Leaving politics out of it, that's something that should have been done on grounds of common sense long ago...
 
2020-09-23 8:26:19 PM  

dittybopper: For those who forgot: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik​i/Metcalf_sniper_attack


Never forgot!

Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2020-09-23 8:35:09 PM  

dittybopper: For those who forgot: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik​i/Metcalf_sniper_attack


That is deeply troubling. We need to be extra vigilant for weird shiat like this.
 
2020-09-23 8:43:07 PM  

dittybopper: For those who forgot: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik​i/Metcalf_sniper_attack


I was going to say that type of coordinated attack by several groups could probably do more significant damage a heck of a lot cheaper than manufacturing a backdoor in a transformer
 
2020-09-23 9:39:54 PM  
Fire zee rail gun!
 
2020-09-23 10:31:07 PM  
I remember an experiment to transfer data via electricity lines. It would work too, wouldn't be fast.

That was in 1996-1997.

In the transformer itself, which is a basic tech, you can hide a computer to control or destroy the power infrastructure. It can be connected to the grid, and you can communicate via electricity lines. Lots of places inside there that can be filled with expanding foam to avoid anyone checking and figuring out what you are up to, until it activates.

Not that there isnt fear mongering by Trump, "lets check everything Chinese, just in case they are messing with us."
 
2020-09-23 10:54:17 PM  

dittybopper: For those who forgot: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik​i/Metcalf_sniper_attack


"a sophisticated domestic terror assault"
"The attack, in which gunmen fired on 17 electrical transformers"
 
2020-09-23 10:54:33 PM  
The circuit breakers for big power systems use explosives to open switches that might have been welded closed.  That is why you hear "buzz, buzz, bang" when a squirrel gets in the wrong place.  It would be possible to place one of those explosive devices in such a place inside a transformer to cause the very high voltage to hit the lower voltage lines.  This thing looks like it is one of the 300,000V* -> 15,000v type transformers.  If you put 300,000V on the 15k line, the transformer outside your house will stop putting out 250V and put out something much closer to 5,000V.  Do that for a few cycles and you can destroy a lot of stuff over a large area as the grid's over voltage protection stuff is about stopping lighting strikes, not having 20 times the proper AC voltages fed into transformers. Most things can take a 1,000 volt hit once but any higher is going to fry it.

dittybopper: For those who forgot: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik​i/Metcalf_sniper_attack


That sounds like a proof of concept attack against a target that was ignoring risks.

Everything about it seems to be a wake up call without any major risk.

* All numbers are changed to protect the innocent
 
2020-09-23 10:59:20 PM  
Like those mystery seeds, the mystery transformers put mind control instructions, Wuhan germs and Communist propaganda on the grid via Foucault's currents.

These get in your house and brainwash you or kill you if you're not susceptable.
 
2020-09-23 11:30:17 PM  

dittybopper: For those who forgot: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik​i/Metcalf_sniper_attack


They built the wall and fence around that place in record time.
 
2020-09-23 11:49:15 PM  

GaperKiller: dittybopper: For those who forgot: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik​i/Metcalf_sniper_attack

They built the wall and fence around that place in record time.


Thing is, there are a lot of facilities like that around the country, many in remote areas, and known to the public.  It is not exactly a high skill effort to engage in that attack.  A person at each location with a rifle could do a lot of damage in a short amount of time without much risk of immediate capture.
 
2020-09-24 1:18:06 AM  
hirosam

Unobtanium: Although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which, unlike DOE, is an independent regulatory agency, has long had CEII rules in place related to the bulk power grid...

It's not news, it's FERC...


Most transformers  have some kind of ferc core.
 
2020-09-24 5:46:52 AM  

Daedalus27: dittybopper: For those who forgot: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik​i/Metcalf_sniper_attack

I was going to say that type of coordinated attack by several groups could probably do more significant damage a heck of a lot cheaper than manufacturing a backdoor in a transformer


Yes, *BUT* you have to have people in place, and they have to be trained, and equipped.  And you have to be sure none of them is going to rat out the others.  There are a number of problems associated with that.

If you send your teams very early, before there is any sign of problems, they might come to associate with their new host country, and not activate, or even go to the authorities and say "Hey, keep an eye out at electrical substations".

Send them in just prior to the opening of hostilities, and you run the risk of them being noticed and arrested before they can act.

Recruiting people already in place is possible, but you've got the same potential problems as case 1, even more so.

On the other hand, if you're supplying critical infrastructure, it makes a lot of sense to be able to shut it down/destroy it remotely.  Especially if you are the major (or only) source of that left for your adversary.

And it's not just things like transformers. It's electronics in general, and even other things like medicine.  The PRC makes most of the medicine used by people in the US.  What if they said "OK, we've had enough of your support for Taiwan and patrolling the South China Sea.  No more medicine for you". We're not the only nation that can impose sanctions, after all.

This has been a long term plan by the PRC to manufacture things as cheaply as possible to make it unattractive economically to manufacture in the United States.  Even setting aside things like booby-trapping transformers, it's a major advantage if you go to war against the country you are the major supplier for.

While it might look attractive from an economic standpoint, moving most of our manufacturing to China was strategic folly.
 
2020-09-24 7:29:05 AM  

Daedalus27: GaperKiller: dittybopper: For those who forgot: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik​i/Metcalf_sniper_attack

They built the wall and fence around that place in record time.

Thing is, there are a lot of facilities like that around the country, many in remote areas, and known to the public.  It is not exactly a high skill effort to engage in that attack.  A person at each location with a rifle could do a lot of damage in a short amount of time without much risk of immediate capture.


Well, I'm not so sure.

This wasn't an unsophisticated attack by Bubbas pissed off about their electricity bill.  The attackers first attempted to disable the communications to and from the facility.  Then, they coordinated the attack against the transformers through the use of light signals, and subsequently ceased fire upon another light signal just 1 minute before the police arrived.

That last bit suggests to me that they were either listening to the police on scanners, or they had a lookout stationed somewhere with a radio.

None of the recovered shell casings had any fingerprints.

Also, it's unlikely that anyone in that group was carrying a cell phone, because if they were, it would be a relatively simple matter to identify suspects based upon what cell phones were in the area.   Even "burner" phones can be a major security risk unless you only use them for that one operation and get rid of them.

If you look on Google Earth  at that substation, it's kind of easy to get caught.   It's less than 4/10ths of a mile from the closest residential neighborhood.   It's flanked by divided highways on either side, and there isn't a good place to discreetly park a vehicle.  There is a small wooded strip of land that follows a stream.  The surrounding hills are bare, with no cover or concealment.

The attack lasted 19 minutes, during which just 100 rounds were fired (based on recovered casings).  That's about 5 shots per minute total, and there were multiple shooters.   This wasn't a bunch of yahoos wildly firing.
 
2020-09-24 7:33:33 AM  

GaperKiller: dittybopper: For those who forgot: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik​i/Metcalf_sniper_attack

They built the wall and fence around that place in record time.


Sure, if at least a year and a half is "record time".   Attack was in April 2013.   If you look at the history on Google Earth, no wall in June 2013, and no wall in February 2014.   Wall doesn't appear until March 2015, so it was probably about a year-ish between the attack and the wall.  Certainly it was at least 10 months, minimum.

Oh, and it always had a fence.
 
2020-09-25 2:19:17 AM  

UberDave: I'm betting you can do more damage to the electrical grid with a couple hundred bucks spent at your local party supply than you can hiding a device in a millions-of-dollars transformer.


Never underestimate the power of three magic words:

Hold my beer...
 
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