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Superbowl blackout was a stuff-up, not Anonymous

Misconfigured backup relay

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

When there was a power outage during the Superbowl, it only took minutes for someone to claim responsibility on behalf of “Anonymous”.

There’s never a guarantee that anyone claiming to speak for the collective is actually doing so; and in any case, the reality turns out to be boring. According to the Wall Street Journal, the problem arose because someone misconfigured a relay meant to protect the Superdome stadium’s power systems.

The relay in question was only worth a few thousand dollars out of a recent multi-million power upgrade.

The relay involved seems to have been designed to shut some of the power system down as a protective measure if the current draw was too high – but in configuring it, S&C Electric told the WSJ, someone set it to cut in at too low a current.

As a result, as the power draw ramped up, the protection mechanism activated, causing the blackout.

Utility Entergy told Bloomberg “the local current exceeded the trip setting that had been selected”.

“Entergy ruled out a cyberattack for the power failure on Feb. 5, saying there was no Internet or remote computer access to the device,” the Bloomberg article notes. ®

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