Squirrels are vastly more harmful to the world's power grids than "the cyber" is

Of 1700+ known acts of global power-grid sabotages, affecting some 5,000,000 people, 879 were caused by squirrels; between 0 and 1 were caused by Russia, and another 1 was caused by the USA (Stuxnet).



The data was presented in a Shmoocon talk last week by Cris "SpaceRogue" Thomas, who looked at 35 years' worth of power-grid disruption and concluded that Ted Koppel knows shit-all about cybersecurity, despite having written a (hysterical) book about it.

Thomas runs a project called Cybersquirrel1, which tracks power-outages caused by critters (as well as the rare, rare instances in which they are caused by infowar operatives).

To "counteract the ludicrousness of cyberwar claims by people at high levels in government and industry," Thomas said, he launched CyberSquirrel1. Inspired by a presentation at Thotcon by Josh Corman (now the director for Cyber Statecraft at the Atlantic Council) and Jericho of Attrition.org, SpaceRogue started CyberSquirrel1 initially as a Twitter feed on March 19, 2013. The account simply "collected from a Google alert for news," he said. But it soon evolved into a much larger data gathering effort, collecting from search engines and other Web sources to populate a spreadsheet. Jericho joined in to enhance the data set the next year, adding more details and events—but even so, Thomas noted that he was only catching a fraction.

Squirrels are not the only "actors" tracked by CyberSquirrel1—birds, snakes, raccoons, rats, and martens factor in among the top animal threats that have been captured by the project's spreadsheet. Jellyfish have even gotten into the act, shutting down a nuclear power plant in 2013. CyberSquirrel1's data so far has tracked "over 1,700 outages, affecting nearly 5 million people," Thomas noted. "If you consolidated them into one location, it would basically take out the power for the San Francisco metropolitan area for two months." Shockingly, there have even been eight deaths attributed since the tracking began to follow animal attacks on infrastructure—six caused by squirrels downing power lines that struck people on the ground.

CyberSquirrel1 project shows fuzzy-tailed intruders cause more damage than "cyber" does.

[Sean Gallagher/Ars Technica]