Telecom networks and power grids are two critical parts of the modern infrastructure. It is very hard to overstate their importance to the functioning of the world’s economy. At the same time, both of these networks are extremely vulnerable to outages. What is worse, both telecoms and utilities depend on each other in order to function properly. In other words, when one goes down, the other frequently follows.These failures often occur with no prior notice whatoever and for many different reasons. Causes include natural disasters, mechanical issues, cyber attacks, and even terrorism. We feel that the below articles did not receive as much attention as they should have.
Frankly, we are sitting on a powder keg and the fuse is lit. We have absolutely no doubt that a significant outage will take place, requiring weeks to recover from. It could happen tonight or 5 years from now but it will happen. The economic damages will run into billions of dollars. Having lived through the Great North American blackout of 2003, we can confirm that it was not much fun. Surviving on pizza (and no beer) for three days in Toronto is not an experience we can recommend to our readers.
With that in mind, it is vitally important to have a solid contingency plan for when (not if) another similar episode takes place.
If you STILL think this possibility is remote and the modest required investment is a waste of money, just ask the residents of Gibraltar, whose power plant blew up yesterday (naturally pulling down the telecom networks with it). Although the fire was put out fairly quickly and all services were restored, we would like to know the magnitude of financial damages suffered by the numerous online gambling businesses based on the Rock. We suspect they will be investing in their infrastructure accordingly going forward. Will you?
By Rebecca Smith, The Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2014
SAN JOSE, Calif.—The attack began just before 1 a.m. on April 16 last year, when someone slipped into an underground vault not far from a busy freeway and cut telephone cables.
Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley. A minute before a police car arrived, the shooters disappeared into the night. more
21 April 2014, BBC News
Local media reported a generator at Waterport Power Station caught fire and exploded due to a mechanical failure.
No-one was injured, but the outage shut down the online betting operations of several firms, including William Hill, Betfred and Ladbrokes, which are based in Gibraltar.
Online gambling is an important part of Gibraltar’s economy with international companies choosing to base themselves there because of the territory’s low taxes. more