White House expands power grid war to include banks, Wall Street and telecom companies

The war game that the government and utilities hold every other year to simulate attacks on the power grid is being expanded this year to include big banks, Wall Street, and the telecommunications industry.

The expansion of the GridEx IV security exercise in November comes as presidential advisers are scrambling to draft recommendations to protect infrastructure, noting that the electric sector has been a step ahead on public-private partnerships to address cybersecurity.

Calling the nation's utilities "the top of the risk matrix," Mike Wallace, a former utility executive and member of the presidential National Infrastructure Advisory Council, said the exercise "offers the perfect opportunity to test precisely how federal authorities will be exercised during a severe cyber event." He made the comments at the panel's quarterly meeting last month to discuss its latest draft recommendations for protecting the grid.

"The NIAC has repeatedly found that cross-sector exercises is the best way to test decision making, protocols, procedures, and to identify gaps," Wallace said.

But even before adding the telecom and financial sectors to the exercise was included in a formal list of recommendations, Trump was already on board, according to a senior White House official.

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