UK energy firm says it is confident power cut was not caused by cyberattack

The power cut knocked out traffic lights and railway signals and brought electric trains to a standstill. (Reuters)
Updated 11 August 2019

UK energy firm says it is confident power cut was not caused by cyberattack

  • The last time the UK national grid suffered an outage of more than one power station at the same time was 2008

LONDON: A power cut that affected a million people and caused travel chaos was not the result of a cyberattack, operators of Britain’s electricity network said on Saturday.

National Grid operations director Duncan Burt said Friday’s blackout was caused when two power stations failed almost simultaneously, leading the system to cut off power to some parts of the country in order to preserve the rest. He said the company was “very confident that there was no malicious intent or cyberattack involved.”

Burt said the loss of two power plants at once was a “very, very rare event” and something similar last happened in 2008.

Tim Green, of the Energy Futures Laboratory at Imperial College London, said failures were at a gas-fired power plant in southern England and a wind farm in the North Sea. He said it was unclear whether the two near-simultaneous outages were connected or it was a coincidence.

Britain’s energy watchdog, Ofgem, said it has asked for “an urgent detailed report from National Grid so we can understand what went wrong and decide what further steps need to be taken. This could include enforcement action.”

The cut hit a large swath of England and Wales, knocking out traffic lights and railway signals and bringing electric-powered trains to a standstill. Electricity was restored within 90 minutes but many travelers were stuck for hours on trains.

Delays and cancelations continued into Saturday at London’s King’s Cross, one of the country’s busiest train stations.

Andrew Adonis, a former chairman of Britain’s National Infrastructure Commission, said National Grid had “some big questions to answer” about how a relatively brief power cut had caused nationwide mayhem on the railways.

“Why ... did their systems allow the national transport system to collapse in the way it did? Because that absolutely shouldn’t happen,” he said.


Huawei given 90 days to buy from US suppliers

Trader Tommy Kalikas works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. (AP)
Updated 3 min 2 sec ago

Huawei given 90 days to buy from US suppliers

  • Shortly after blacklisting the company in May, the Commerce Department initially allowed Huawei to purchase some American-made goods in a move aimed at minimizing disruption for its customers

WASHINGTON: US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday the US government will extend a reprieve given to Huawei Technologies that permits the Chinese firm to buy supplies from US companies so that it can service existing customers, even as nearly 50 of its units were being added to a US economic blacklist.
The “temporary general license,” due to expire on Monday, will be extended for Huawei for 90 days, he told Fox Business Network Monday, confirming an expected decision first reported Friday by Reuters. He also said he was adding 46 Huawei affiliates to the Entity List, raising the total number to more than 100 Huawei entities that are covered by the restrictions.
Ross said the extension was to aid US customers, many of which operate networks in rural America.
“We’re giving them a little more time to wean themselves off,” Ross said.
Shortly after blacklisting the company in May, the Commerce Department initially allowed Huawei to purchase some American-made goods in a move aimed at minimizing disruption for its customers.
The extension, through Nov. 19, renews an agreement continuing the Chinese company’s ability to maintain existing telecommunications networks and provide software updates to Huawei handsets.
Asked what will happen in November to US companies, Ross said: “Everybody has had plenty of notice of it, there have been plenty of discussions with the president.”
When the Commerce Department blocked Huawei from buying US goods earlier this year, it was seen as a major escalation in the Sino-US trade war.
The US government blacklisted Huawei, alleging the Chinese company is involved in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.

BACKGROUND

The US blacklisted Huawei, alleging the Chinese company was involved in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.

As an example, the blacklisting order cited a pending federal criminal case concerning allegations Huawei violated US sanctions against Iran. Huawei has pleaded not guilty in the case.

The order noted that the indictment also accused Huawei of “deceptive and obstructive acts.”
At the same time the US says Huawei’s smartphones and network equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans, allegations the company has repeatedly denied.
Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, is still prohibited from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without additional special licenses.
Many Huawei suppliers have requested the special licenses to sell to the firm. Ross told reporters late last month he had received more than 50 applications, and that he expected to receive more. He said on Monday that there were no “specific licenses being granted for anything.”