No.1 threat to US electric grid? squirrels.
January 10, 2016 10:43 PM   Subscribe

"This map lists all unclassified Cyber Squirrel Operations that have been released to the public that we have been able to confirm. There are many more executed ops than displayed on this map however, those ops remain classified."
posted by the man of twists and turns (28 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Are your nuts safe?
posted by adept256 at 10:47 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ha! I always knew Secret Squirrel was real!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:03 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

posted by pompomtom at 12:46 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Well, they missed one in 2009 where a squirrel crossed two phases at the transformer behind my home and took out power for a good chunk of my area for a few hours.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:10 AM on January 11, 2016

In my company there's a slimy and dishonest infosec guy who's successfully used fear to accumulate more and more power, and he's now a vice president despite being despised by everyone who's not senior management. This graph was circulated extensively after one of his fearmongering presentations.
posted by kersplunk at 3:48 AM on January 11, 2016 [8 favorites]



, , Barbados

Monkey shuts down island for seven hours
posted by MtDewd at 5:16 AM on January 11, 2016

They left out this one, which hit the hospital I work at in addition to the one mentioned in the article (be sure and read the first comment). It was brief and didn't disrupt things too much. There was a worse one in summer 1993, though. We had a new CEO at the hospital and someone convinced him that we could make money by running the emergency generators at times of peak demand and selling the power back to the electric company. You can probably see where this is going. There was a power outage at about 3 pm one day and the switch that was supposed to direct the emergency power back to the hospital failed due to a squirrel incursion. There was no power at all for about 15 minutes. Most critical equipment(ventilators and IV pumps, mainly) had battery backups, but there was no battery powered lighting in the stairwells, which also had no windows and were consequently pitch black. I remember that part well because I was going down the stairs to leave when it happened. The situation was straightened out before anyone was hurt, and now we have battery powered lighting all over the place. I think we also got out of the power generating business. The amount of money involved was embarrassingly small considering the risks.

I wonder if they have squirrels in Oregon?
posted by TedW at 5:29 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure said slimy infosec person probably works at every employer
posted by vuron at 5:33 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Spoilers: Squirrel Girl will have five minutes on screen as a motivation for the events of Captain America: Civil War.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:54 AM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

I remember fondly the ongoing wars that Professor Ortmeyer had coming up with ways to prevent squirrels from arcing across a transformer. There was (and I bet still is) a testing facility near the woods next to CAMP with a baited transformer like contraption with a webcam to see what designs would work best to impede the ingress of squirrels into the top of a transformer and thereby disappearing in a whiff of electricity into smoke. I see he has developed other solution since I've been there.
posted by koolkat at 5:56 AM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

We had a 4-5 hour power outage Saturday (before the cold stuff arrived, thankfully) Close to 8,000 homes were dark. Rumor is, it was also caused by a squirrel, though it doesn't show up on the map.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:59 AM on January 11, 2016

they're targeting personal businesses as well, if the one that took out the power where I work over the summer is any indication. it's not on this map though. minor ops or an agent that hit the wrong target? we'll never know now.
posted by suddenly, and without warning, at 6:42 AM on January 11, 2016

I work in IT security. I love this. I'm not slimy I promise.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:54 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Dogs have been aware of this threat for a long time.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:26 AM on January 11, 2016 [16 favorites]

any word on the threat from Moose?
posted by thelonius at 8:27 AM on January 11, 2016 [6 favorites]

"Eats Nuts. Kicks (power grid) butts."
posted by drezdn at 9:01 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not just a threat to wired links either. (SYTL)
posted by Sunburnt at 9:21 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

My neighbor Tim hates squirrels at the same level as most dogs. I mean rabidly and unceasingly. I never really had a problem with them and always thought he was a little over the top on the issue. Until this last holiday season. Squirrels chewed through 3 power units for my holiday lights. Finally only stopping when I wrapped everything up to the lights themselves, in aluminum foil. I suspect the foil is only a temporary measure as well.
posted by evilDoug at 9:35 AM on January 11, 2016

I knew that squirrels took out transformers, but wow: these little guys have deprived more people of power than Enron.
posted by eclectist at 9:47 AM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ok, I have to put a plug in here for my town and our numerous squirrel bridges and our squirrel fest. Ryan Stiles performed one night and asked people to yell out the name of a local festival. Many said "squirrel fest," which was not an expected response judging by his confusion.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 10:02 AM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

any word on the threat from Moose?

Moose plus squirrel equals beeeeg trouble, comrade.
posted by deadaluspark at 10:55 AM on January 11, 2016 [5 favorites]

In the West, the big problems are eagles, osprey and other birds nesting on high voltage transmission towers. Just before they take off, they expel a large defecation stream that can cause shorts between the wire and the grounded tower. These are known as bird streamers, which you can read about and see pics in this PDF.
posted by JackFlash at 11:11 AM on January 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


(For the squirrels, of course.)
posted by eriko at 11:43 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

When elect Presdident, Bird Bird will take care of the squirrel menace.
posted by stannate at 3:17 PM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Bird Bird has been warning us, as well.
posted by idiopath at 3:54 PM on January 11, 2016

I'm still waiting on a sticker from them...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:53 PM on January 11, 2016

And they're getting fatter.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:11 PM on January 11, 2016

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