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Sorry, Hackers, Internet Kill-Switch Supporters: The Hoover Dam Cannot Be Hacked

Despite somewhat breathless warnings by people in support of “Internet kill-switch” legislation who say that hackers could unlock the floodgates of the Hoover Dam, killing thousands, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation assures everyone that this threat is unfounded. Why? Because the Hoover Dam is not connected to the Internet. For obvious reasons. (Hackers.)

While this is certainly not the first time the Hoover Dam has been discussed as a target of terrorist attacks — physical, cyber, or otherwise — the idea has been resurrected along with the “kill-switch” legislation, which itself was resurrected by the U.S. Senate after Egypt turned off its Internet access. The bill, known formally as the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, seeks to give the president power to shut down Internet connections, including in the private sector (but not the entire Internet), in anticipation of an imminent cyberattack (assuming they had evidence of such an attack …?). And now, the threat of a compromised Hoover Dam seems like a major selling point for the controversial legislation:

“We are very concerned about an electronic control system that could cause the floodgates to come open at the Hoover Dam and kill thousands of people in the process,” said Brandon Milhorn, staff director of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “That’s a significant concern.”

However, like some of our more stubborn elderly relatives, the Hoover Dam is not actually connected to the Internet. Sooooo … yeah. Can’t use that, says the Bureau of Reclamation, which is in charge of the Hoover Dam:

“I’d like to point out that this is not a factual example, because Hoover Dam and important facilities like it are not connected to the internet,” Peter Soeth, a spokesman for the bureau, said in an e-mail. “These types of facilities are protected by multiple layers of security, including physical separation from the internet, that are in place because of multiple security mandates and good business practices.”

In other words, people were smart enough to know that the Hoover Dam would be a prime target for hackers, so they’ve made a point of not making it available to them. Yay! (The AllSpark is safe!)


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