AT&T, which operates the phone network that was affected, has offered a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator or perpetrators.
"These were not amateurs taking potshots," Mark Johnson, a former vice president for transmission operations at PG&E, said last month at a conference on grid security held in Philadelphia. "My personal view is that this was a dress rehearsal" for future attacks.
At the very least, the attack points to an arguably overlooked physical threat to power facilities at a time when much of the U.S. intelligence community, Congress and the electrical power industry is focused on the risk of cyber attacks.
There has never been a confirmed power outage caused by a cyber attack in the United States. But the Obama administration has sought to promulgate cyber security standards that power facilities could use to minimize the risk of one.
At least one senior official thinks the government is focusing too heavily on cyber attacks. Jon Wellinghoff, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said last month that an attack by intruders with guns and rifles could be just as devastating as a cyber attack.
A shooter "could get 200 yards away with a .22 rifle and take the whole thing out," Wellinghoff said last month at a conference sponsored by Bloomberg. His proposed defense: A metal sheet that would block the transformer from view.
Black Blade: Anyone who has prepped for an EMP type event is already ahead of the curve when it comes to attacks on the grid. Which reminds me I should start work on a new Faraday Cage for some electrical equipment.