Protecting US Electric Grid from Cyber Attacks



Has Israel Found The Answer To Cyber Attacks?

Israel built an “Iron Dome” to thwart rocket attacks — and now has unveiled an “information dome” to stop cyber-attacks on the power grid and other essential infrastructure.

Like the Iron Dome, the so-called Information Grid “dome” is designed with specific capabilities to issue commands when threats to the command and control system in the power grid are detected

The Israel Electric Company (IEC) late last year unveiled its Information Grid system, which is designed to keep a watchful eye on the flow of electricity to make sure nothing is amiss with the country’s electricity.

It allows for real-time control using thousands of sensors installed at hundreds of different locations in Israel. The sensors measure a plethora of data flowing into the Information Grid – and react instantly.

In Israel, when a cyber-attack is detected, or any unusual change in the routine flow of electricity is discovered, the power grid will automatically close connections to the compromised segment of the system or to the
compromised segment of the system or substation.

In the wake of NSA Director Michael Rogers telling the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that China “and one or two more” nation states are capable of taking down the power grid in America, perhaps our new Congress should consider a similar project in America. It is estimated that millions of American would die within the initial weeks of a downed grid –
and that two-thirds of the population would perish after a year.

“Hezbollah-style terrorism and Grad missile attacks are out; cyber-attacks are in.”

Electric Company Board of Directors Chairman Yiftach Ron-Tal said. “We are getting hit with tens of thousands of penetration attempts daily, hundreds of thousands monthly. The world, the state of Israel and the electricity sector are in an era where cybernetic threats on
communication infrastructures are ever-increasing.”

Should the United States spend the money to develop a system similar to Israel’s? Share your thoughts below


The ‘Wearables’ Revolution


Wearables are clothing and accessories incorporating computer and advanced electronic technologies. They are also called ‘wearable technology,’ ‘fashionable technology’ ‘wearable devices’ ‘tech togs’ or ‘fashion electronics.’

Wearables are the newest technology trend. They are also one of the oldest trends because humans have been wearing functional objects ever since watchmakers developed portable clocks in the 16th Century.

Yet wearables are different from functional objects, like watches, because they use technology to interact with humans.  us.

In fact, there is a revolution in the wearables market which could soon be as big as the smart phone market! 

We all know that smartphones record conversations, take pictures, send and receive messages, connect with social media profiles and the like. 

But while smart phone manufacturers had to master the tricky art of providing a dependable mobile Internet service, wearable manufacturers are able to use these  innovations to communicate with smartphones and thus with the outside world.

It may seem laughable to suggest that people will be replacing their smartphones in favor of amped-up watches, eyeglasses, rings,and bracelets.

Yet that’s why Google has poured millions into an improbable set of eyeglasses, why Samsung has unveiled a companion watch for its smartphones, and why Apple is widely rumored to be exploring something similar.

Clearly, a new device revolution is at hand: And this revolution could take shape much faster than the mobile revolution that preceded it.

Welcome to the Brave New World of internet technology. Some observers have even suggested that this technology could lead to the end of the human race (see Professor Stephen Hawkins at the end of this blog).


Smartwatches may be cool, but wearable health monitoring devices can save lives. These gadgets now run the gamut, from managing chronic disease to optimizing fitness programs.

Wearable bio-sensors for infants are a growing industry. In the USA a company is launching a “smart sock” that can be attached to a newborn baby’s ankle to monitor its vital signs. Parents can use a smart phone to check t their baby’s heart rate, oxygen concentrations, skin temperature and receive alerts if the child rolls over

Biosensors for adults include multifunctional watches, pedometers, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices that interact with smartphones and tablets via apps to track users’ sleep, health, and movement.

Other sensors have been developed for patients who are rresidents of assisted living facilities. They can be tracked — and can call for help — anywhere they go on the facility’s premises while wearing a system tag such as a necklace or wristwatch.

Another new tool aimed at the healthcare industry is a ‘skin-friendly’ adhesive that collects data, such as the number of hours slept and breathes per minute, which are transmitted by a sensor to a user’s doctor or caregiver’s device, such as a smart phone.

Yet another device uses electroactive polymer technology, called PolyPower. The company’s first design focused on stretch sensors that safely and precisely measure displacement on or close to the human body, such as motions, breathing, swelling, posture, and so on. The sensors are made of the company’s Dielectric ElectroactivePolymer (DEAP) material.

Many devices now allow medical providers to monitor a patient so that doctors can intervene earlier and patients can avoid complications.

Other devices can detect whether an elderly patient has taken a fall, or remind patients it’s time to take their medications. Still other wearables allow consumers to keep tabs on their own health and fitness, helping them lose weight or sleep better.    

Another mobile health application and remote monitoring system has received 510(k) clearance from the FDA. The system was developed in collaboration with Mayo Clinic and supports remote monitoring for patients with cardiac problems and allows doctors to monitor key biometrics while patients can go about their daily lives.

Technology in clothing or on an ID badge can also play a big role in security surveillance, and disaster-relief operations

Meanwhile Amazon has started promoting a range of wearables.


Health/fitness monitors and communications devices are the most
compelling markets with about a third of the population interested in
monitoring home security. 

When asked about their purchase plans, consumers say they are more likely to increase their spending on devices than any other category of technology.

Over half of Americans are open to buying a wearable gadget in the
future. There is significant purchase intent for 27%, which is
a huge increase from the roughly 2% who currently own some type
of on-body technology. 

Men are more intrigued by this technology than women, and 18-35
year-olds are the most interested age group

Consumers are apparently most interested in gadgets they can wear on their wrist, followed by their arm.


These devices are here to stay, and more
are on the way. How they address the needs of consumers and the
health care industry will determine which devices are truly effective,
and which are not.  Billions of consumers are forecast to buy wearables, and in-home devices over the next five years   

Consumer demand for both wearables and in-home devices equipped with sensor nodes and wireless links is expected to ramp up substantially throughout the rest of this decade. 

ABI is predicting that the global installed base of active
wireless connected devices will exceed 16 billion in 2014, or
about 20 percent more than in 2013. Moreover, the installed-device
base will more than double over current levels, reaching 40.9
billion in 2020.

The adoption of wearable technology, such as smart watches and fitness devices, will gradually increase, with nearly half of U.S. consumers already owning or planning to buy a device in this category in the next five years. Wearable fitness devices will generate the most mass consumer adoption in the next year, with 22 percent of consumers already owning or planning to make a purchase by 2015.

ABI Research has projected that by 2016, wearable wireless medical device sales will reach more than 100 million devices annually.  The market for wearable sports and fitness-related monitoring devices is projected to grow as well, reaching 80million device sales by 2016

Venture financing for bio-sensors and wearable technology increased 5 times from 2011-2013—more than double the growth of digital health overall during the same period. The merging of bio-sensors and wearable technology into a singular category will likely have the most impact on healthcare.

ABI Research revealed that in 2014, 90 million wearable computing devices were shipped, of which approximately 74 million were bio-sensing wearables.


Funding for bio-sensing wearables reached $282M in 2013 while the sector that consists of multi-functional watches, pedometers, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices wearable technology, could be worth $42 billion within five years, and promises to revolutionize marketing, retail, fitness and medicine.

Today the average American’s health insurance payments fluctuate once a year. Imagine if that rate changed everyday determined in part by a sensor-rich gadget on the wrist. Sound far-fetched?

Insurers make these decisions based on aggregate profiles that include gender and age. But wearable devices could also help create more insightful profiles as sensors pick up details like heart rate and stress.

In the meantime, employers are opting to monitor data generated by fitness trackers and are holding their insured staff to account with rewards as part of a growing number of so-called corporate-wellness programs


Wearables will add to our lives. But there are also dangers associated with the technology..

Wearables will direct us to meetings; improve our productivity; tell us about security threat alerts; deliver drugs, manage pain and restart our hearts. At the same time there will be new challenges.

More employers are opting to monitor health data being and are holding their insured staff to account with rewards as part of a growing number of so-called corporate-wellness programs

Some are even exploring punishments for unhealthy behavior
recorded by wearables.

Tracking “gadgets” already play a role in car insurance and some auto insurance companies offer drivers a small  device they can plug it into their dashboards so the company can monitor their driving over 30 days. Safe drivers are then eligible for a discount.

Greater health monitoring would naturally put wearables in a
very gray area on privacy. It would go beyond giving doctors
deeper access to your data, to giving health payers — the big
names like United Health and Kaiser Foundation Group, Humana Group and Aetna, along with self-insured employers — access to data to help them create more detailed risk profiles on insured workforces to put a lid on ever-rising healthcare costs

Tech companies that mastered design will also need to conquer the entirely different realm of fashion. And that could require technologists to unlearn a great deal of what they think they know.

Today, most bio-sensing wearable companies are responsible for both the hardware and software components of their product, which has created a funnel-type ecosystem. It can be daunting for a start up team to master the entire stack.

Intellectual property challenges for wearables’ has already begun. The first patent litigation is now underway in the US as Adidas takes issue with Under Armour over its MapMyFitnesss app, and tech companies, like Google, are acquiring and developing patent arsenals.

In 2013 alone, Google was awarded over 2,000 US patents, almost double the number of all previous years combined,

The dangers of poor quality patents is prompting heated debate in the USA. Conversely, industry standards for the wearable sector will be influenced by recent national and international developments.

Intellectual property has traditionally made a neat distinction between design and patent law that wearable tech may well explode. Steve Jobs once said of design: “It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

The lack of clarity around the protection of unregistered designs and virtual designs may also affect innovation in this sector although existing forms of international protection (such as trademarks or patents) may well fill the gap.

Wearables may also blur the lines between the human body and technology. The use of assistive technology by people with disabilities (including advanced prostheses used by athletes) has fueled a continuing debate about the use of technology to enhance human capabilities. 

While new possibilities arise using remote sensors to
track vulnerable people such as children or those with dementia
or using geo-location data for public health or sociological
analysis there will also be questions about privacy issues associated with the use of technology, such as facial recognition capabilities on wearable devices as well as their security implications.

Wearable tech’s full potential will only be realized when the
technology moves from devices observing us to platforms using
the data generated from that observation to give us tailored
advice (or target marketing at us).

But as the wearable tech sector develops and allows tech companies to acquire more and more information about us, it will be iimportant to establish who owns this newest form of intangible property.

Any uncertainty about the ownership of our life data will
have multiple consequences. The interaction with the internet will be particularly important – will we and our devices be one legal entity? Will this affect the inter-operability of various devices and how permissions for use of data and information are sought and obtained?

The legal consequences of using or wearing technology have already started to be explored: from a driver allegedly
distracted by Google Glass, to a person texting a driver held
potentially responsible for accidents that driver causes.

There are other dangers as well. There could be unintended consequences for Megacities which may very well see the numbers of their wealthier families increasing as these people live longer lives assisted by wearable medical devices.

In addition, some say  health care tracking devices could create a two-tier system where those who can afford the best devices will ultimately get access to lower premiums. As wearables transmit more health data to employers, there also lies the risk that data could leak, and be used by marketers peddling diabetes medication or as extra fodder for insurers seeking to deny coverage 

There are even more important  dangers for the Internet of Things (IoT) The Internet of Things is the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing Internet infrastructure.

Typically, IoT is expected to offer advanced connectivity between devices, systems, and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine (M2M)communications and covers a variety of protocols, domains, and applications. 

For example,the IoT involves devices that will utilize an IP address as a unique identifier. But due to limited address space, objects in the IoT are expected to usher in automation in nearly all fields.

Stephen Hawking claims that Artificial intelligence (AI) involving the Internet Of Things, such as Machine to Machine (M2M) communications, could end the human race!

But Charlie Ortiz, head of AI at the Burlington, Massachusetts-based software company Nuance Communications, argues that  these concerns are “way overblown.”

 Will they bring the end of the world or make our lives better? We will have to wait and see if the dangers outweigh the positive consequences.

What do you think? Will artificial intelligence lead to the end of the world as Professor Hawkins suggests? Or will our lives be better?

Wishing all our readers a wonderful and healthy New Year,

Mel Marcus and the Better Cities Team.