By Kevin Poulsen
June 10, 2008
A recent report from the National Journal cited  computer security
executives and U.S. intelligence officials blaming Chinese government
hackers for two major U.S. power outages. We already debunked the
claim with respect to the massive 2003 northeast blackout. Now the
Florida Reliability Coordinating Council has released its preliminary
report  (.pdf) on the February 26th 2008 Florida outage, and -- no
surprise -- human error, not cyber terrorism, is to blame.
Although the initiating cause of the event is still under review by
the Field Personnel Actions Review Team (FPART), a sub-team of the
FEAT, the preliminary cause is currently linked to the disabling, by
a relay field engineer, of all local protective relay equipment
while troubleshooting an associated 138 kV switch. The FRCC Handbook
requires that .each system operator shall notify the FRCC Security
Coordinator when a protective relay or equipment failure that
reduces system reliability occurs.. Although the FEAT has not come
to any conclusions regarding this part of the analysis, the nature
of this procedure and its importance warrants that it be reaffirmed
by the FRCC OC to ensure that FRCC system operators and relay field
personnel understand the intent and importance of the procedure when
performing maintenance on FRCC bulk power system elements.
The organization has released six recommendations to prevent a
recurrence of the fault. None of them include letting the NSA monitor
 all U.S. web traffic.
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