The U.S. power grid is essential to modern society, but a number of vulnerabilities threaten to take the system offline with potentially catastrophic results.
So six colleagues and I spent summer 2016 reporting in Washington state and Washington, D.C., on the various ways a terrorist or natural disaster could wreak havoc by disrupting the flow of electricity.
Most importantly, we asked not only about the risks but also about what is already being done to mitigate them. Here's an excerpt, as published by U.S. News:
A trio of highly trained hackers baited the employees of an electric utility north of Seattle last year with carefully crafted phishing emails. They had a bite in 22 minutes.
Neither alarm bells nor flashing lights drew attention to the mistake, even as a tiny package of malware slipped silently onto the computer of an unsuspecting employee. Had they been hackers with evil intent, they could have cut power to the utility's 325,000 customers.
Instead, the team was part of an unprecedented partnership between the cybersecurity unit of the Washington State National Guard and the Snohomish County Public Utility District.
The full story, which was produced as our Master's capstone reporting project for the Medill National Security Zone, is available on the U.S. News website with photos and 360-degree video.