Cybersecurity has been in the news lately ranging from Iranian hackers gaining access to a dam in upstate New York, ransomware against the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, data breaches involving federal agencies including OPM and the IRS, as well as private companies such as Sony Pictures Entertainment, Home Depot, and Target to name a few.
While humans are accountable for most of the hacks, the U.S. government continues to do battle with elusive creatures which repeatedly attack the nation’s infrastructure and power supply: Sciurus carolinensis a/k/a the common grey squirrel.
“I don’t think paralysis [of the electrical grid] is more likely by cyberattack than by natural disaster. And frankly the number-one threat experienced to date by the US electrical grid is squirrels,” said John C. Inglis, former Deputy Director, National Security Agency.
To date, more than 700 power outages can be directly attributed to the horribly adorable furry rodent followed by a smattering of attacks by birds, raccoons, and snakes.
Mind you, they’re also causing the near extinction of the UK red squirrel but that’s for a different post.
Not to be outdone, an errant weasel or marten brought down the world’s largest particle accelerator known as CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, located near Geneva, Switzerland. The decidedly singed creature apparently chewed through the wiring and took out CERN for at least a week.
Admittedly, this is not the first time an animal has brought CERN to a halt. In 2009, a bird “accidentally” dropped a baguette on the electrical system resulting in a slight disruption of service. Unlike the weasel, the bird survived.
Who needs cyberbombs when a squirrel will do?