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‘Lights Out’

Ted Koppel’s 2015 cybersecurity warning carries on in ELECTRIC VEHICLE era

By James Martinez

With his journalist’s ear, legendary anchor Ted Koppel took note of the warnings from top government officials, including President Obama in his 2015 State of the Union Address calling on Congress to take action regarding cybersecurity threats:

“No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. … If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.”

Such comments by some of the most powerful people in the world led to Koppel’s exploration of the nation’s preparedness and the New York Times best-selling “Lights Out.” Published in 2015, the book examined the threat of a cyber security attack on the nation’s power grid and the potential impact of a prolonged and potentially crippling power outage on a modern, connected society he perceived as ill-equipped to handle it.

Fast-forward to 2022, one of those officials who believed such a cyberattack was improbable, Lloyd Austin III is Secretary of Defense. Recent high-profile cyberattacks such as SolarWinds, Microsoft Exchange, and the Colonial Pipeline – albeit none that rose to the levels of the most dire warnings – have spurred executive orders from President Biden intended to revamp the nation’s cybersecurity.

Meanwhile, the nation’s reliance on internet connectivity, and by extension the power grid, is only increasing as widespread electric vehicle usage is expected to integrate the grid even further into American’s daily lives.

Amid it all, there is an increased understanding that improving cybersecurity is not solely a public sector effort, as referenced in President Biden’s executive order on May 15, 2021:

“Protecting our nation from malicious cyber actors requires the federal government to partner with the private sector. The private sector must adapt to the continuously changing threat environment, ensure its products are built and operate securely, and partner with the Federal Government to foster a more secure cyberspace.”

“No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. ”