Researchers at LANL & ORNL Hardening the Nation’s At-Risk Electric Grids By Developing a Quantum Key Distribution System
(HoustonChronicle) A team of researchers at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge national laboratories are also trying to harden the grid against cyberattack by developing a quantum key distribution system, which harnesses the inherent unpredictability of quantum mechanics to authenticate and encrypt data. The technology allows two parties to share a secret key and alerts them both to any third-party intrusion, a critical security capability as more of the nation’s grid is modernized and data are moved online.
The threats to the power grid are real — and in a world increasingly dependent on technology to function properly, we can’t afford widespread power outages.
This editorial by the director of Los Alamos National Laboratory appears in the Houston newspaper, a city in the region of Southeast Texas where 1.67 million customers lost power in 2017 from Hurricane Harvey.
Solar storms are another threat to the grid. In 1859, a coronal mass ejection from the sun induced a current along telegraph lines and set fire to telegraph offices. Another strong geomagnetic storm in 1921 caused random switching of railroad lines. Imagine that same scenario in 2020.