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Track the dangerous squirrels attacking the US power grid

Track the dangerous squirrels attacking the US power grid


The true cyber warriors

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Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

It’s not just Chinese and Russian hackers that want to take down the power grid. The real cyber enemy lives inside — a true insider threat — and has been attacking national power lines for decades: squirrels. A new Twitter account and accompanying website @cybersquirrel1 is tracking the threat. As of January 5th, the site reports that squirrels have successfully disrupted the power grid 623 times, whereas birds have successfully penetrated it 214 times. These "unclassified operations" go back to 1987, or when the site begins its data collection.

Site visitors can choose a month and year to see a map populate with these successful squirrel operations around the country, along with links back to news stories about the subsequent power outages.

C. Thomas, a strategist at the cybersecurity firm Tenable Network Security, wrote in a column, "Opinion: Squirrels are bigger threat than hackers to US power grid," that the animals cause hundreds of power outages every year. "Yet the only confirmed infrastructure cyberattack that has resulted in physical damage that is publicly known is Stuxnet," he said. He’s got a point. (Those teeth!) Squirrels have been waging and continue to wage war against US powers grids. Stay woke, people.