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Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  4,128 ratings  ·  748 reviews
In this tour de force of investigative reporting, Ted Koppel reveals that a major cyberattack on Americas power grid is not only possible but likely, that it would be devastating, and that the United States is shockingly unprepared.
 
Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people over several states are affected. For those without
...more
Hardcover, 279 pages
Published October 27th 2015 by Crown
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Marci I completely agree that something like this could happen here, and I don't believe it's a matter of 'if' but of 'when'. The government will not be…moreI completely agree that something like this could happen here, and I don't believe it's a matter of 'if' but of 'when'. The government will not be able to help much and there will be a lot of death. Sorry to be a downer. As a Mormon, I have been taught all my life to be prepared just as this book states. It's a way of life. The most inexpensive way to get wheat that I've found is through the church's food storage centers. Twenty five pounds of wheat for six bucks? Absolutely. The church has made it as cheap and easy as possible to obtain basic food needs. You absolutely DO NOT need to be a Mormon to buy there. I've attached a link. The website also has information on how much you should store for your family. Good luck! https://providentliving.lds.org/self-...(less)

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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Nightline with Ted Koppel was a show that was on occasionally in my house when I was growing up. My family respected Ted Koppel, so I guess some of that was installed subconsciously in me. (So much stuff got inadvertently crammed into my small mind space-so stop the judging of me)
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He has since retired and decided on try his hat as an author. He takes on somewhat the fear of a cyber-attack on America's electric/internet infrastructure. (I say somewhat-because I felt like he just glazed the
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Will Byrnes
Darkness
Extended periods of darkness, longer and more profound than anyone not living in one of Americas great cities has ever known.
As power shuts down there is darkness and the sudden loss of electrical conveniences. As batteries lose power, there is more gradual failure of cell phones, portable radios, and flashlights.
Emergency generators provide pockets of light and power, but there is little running water anywhereEmergency supplies of bottled water are too scarce to use for anything
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Tom Mathews
In my online book collection I have a shelf assigned to dystopian novels such as The Stand, The Walking Dead, and The Day of the Triffids. Once, in a somewhat whimsical mood, I renamed it my we're all gonna die shelf. Lights out, Ted Koppels Investigation into the threat that a cyberattack directed against our electrical grid, gets the dubious honor of being the first non-fiction book to be placed on that shelf.

Veteran newsman Koppel, with a consummate skill born of 42 years spent with ABC, lays
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Nan Williams
Dec 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
This reminded me of the adage about public
speaking: "tell them what you're going to say; say it; tell them what you just said; and then recap."

Koppel had one thing to say, "the power grid in the US is highly vulnerable to attack." And he said it and said it again and then said it again for about 175 pages. He obviously interviewed a lot of people, all of whom confirmed his fears about our vulnerability, but they all said the same thing.

The last part of the book focused on the Mormons and on
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The Pfaeffle Journal (Diane)
Ted Koppel's expose on what will happen when we have a massive failure of the power grid. We all know that this could happen and it would be a disaster, I really didn't need Ted Koppel to tell me that. I think what irks me the most is that power companies are hesitant to do any disaster planning because it affects their bottom line. If the government (by which I mean we the people) force companies to have some sort of disaster recovery, it's called regulation and we have every politician vowing ...more
Pamela
Growing up in Oklahoma I experienced my fair share of power outages. Tornadoes, dust devils, heat lightening, hail the size of grapefruits, ice storms and whiteouts. You name it, sans hurricanes, if it's wild and crazy weather, it happens in Oklahoma. And when the lights go out, along with every other electronic device, life becomes a whole different ballgame.

A bit scary? Absolutely. Eerily quiet? Unnervingly so. Annoying and inconvenient? Darn right! If power remains out for more than a couple
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Faith
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
After reading this book, I gave it to a friend, and I wish I had more copies to give away because I shouldn't have to be the only person worried. I think that is the main purpose of this book - to make a critical mass of people concerned about a possibly devastating cyberattack on our electric grid. It would seem wise to be extremely proactive about this. My takeaway is that we as a nation are pathetically unprepared in areas of both prevention and recovery. Sure Mormons, people in rural areas ...more
Lilo
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone who lives on our planet or, at least, on our continent
I finished reading this book a few weeks ago. It caused me to intensify my doomsday prepping. (No, I am NOT kidding.) For this and other reasons, I have been so busy that I cannot squeeze the time to write a review. I, therefore, urge everyone to read Will Byrnes brilliant review of this book. Here is the link:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

P.S. After finishing reading the above book, I read "Electric Armageddon", by Dr. Peter Vincent Pry. Dr. Pry's book deals with the same nightmare,
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Randal White
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Frightening! Frightening! Through the use of extensive interviews, Koppel illustrates how fragile the infrastructure of our power grid really is. Whether through cyberterrorism or a physical act of terrorism, we are at risk for a major disruption to our system. Koppel explains how the interruption will be much worse than a mere days long period, and how it may stretch up to a year or more. He also points out the "head-in-the-sand" mentality of our government officials to the issue. Let's hope ...more
Grumpus
Aug 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, audiobook
It was good to hear Ted Koppels voice again, but oh God, please dont let something like this happen. No electricity. No internet. No Goodreads!

Seriously, according to the book it is estimated that only 1 in 10 Americans would survive a year without electricity. Imagine all the equipment the infirmed require, imagine all the refrigeration required for food and drugs, imagine not being able to pump gas, imagine no generators for lack of fuel, no heat, no air conditioning, no flushing toilets,
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Bob Schnell
Advanced reading copy review Due to be published October 27, 2015

Ted Koppel is known to most Americans as the anchor of Nightline (ABC News) for 25 years. In "Lights Out" he uses his journalism skills to alert us to perhaps the greatest current threat to America's security, cyber-terrorism. While the emphasis is on hackers bringing down our power grid, he also warns about attacks on our water systems, nuclear power plants and other potentially disastrous weak points in our infrastructure that
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Cheryl
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found this book very informative and enlightening. I took my time reading this boo only because I wanted to digest the information that was in this book longer. Mr. Koppel brings the news to you and does not stray from it. Anyone interested and intrigued by world events or the cyber world will find this book a great read. I was drawn in by Mr. Koppel's writing. Also, I found his interviews with people fascinating. It did not seem like the things the people said were edited to the point that ...more
Steve
Here's this book in a nutshell: "The nation's power grid is woefully unprotected and unprepared for a direct assault, especially through a cyber attack." Most of the rest of the book is rehashing this thesis with various data points and interviews with cyber warfare and electrical production experts. Oh, and Mormon preparation for the collapse.

It's not a bad book, by any means. My biggest issue isn't the fact that the author details the many ways in which our power grid is unsecure, it's that he
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Furrawn
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well-written, erudite, and a tremendous amount of interviewing and research went into this book. I think he missed an important chapter on alternative forms of power like solar that would have been helpful. He does mention a wind turbine etc, but it seemed to be a fringe thing.

Koppel makes a compelling argument for the need to plan for a cyberattack on our electric grid. He goes to military and home land security folks. They all say we're vulnerable. If such an attack happens, the country is
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Joel
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
The power in my house briefly went out as I was wrapping up chapter 16. Not kidding. It was only about 2 seconds, but since this never happens here (coupled obviously with the content of the book), it concerned the crap out me. Thanks Ted Koppel, I'll never sleep again.

I can't give this book a top rating because it didn't really have an ending. Unless I missed it, there was no real solution or call to action. Even most climate change books that I've read have some slim optimistic actionable
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Jean
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a frightening book and I hope it never comes true. Ted Koppel, a well known journalist, attempts to show readers about the dangers to the power grid and how unprepared the government and utility corporations are in stopping an attack on the power grid and what happens to the country if it is prolonged.

Koppel tells the story as a journalist but because of the complexity of the subject it might have been better told as an analyst. I felt that Koppel wandered off topic frequently and the
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Luke Taylor
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Covering a great many issues with the objectivity gained by a lifetime of asking the right questions, Ted Koppel's Lights Out is a must read for every citizen of the United States of America. Leaving no stone unturned in his exposition, Koppel provides both technical analysis and colorful anecdotes, as well as his testimony enduring the Blitz as a child in the epilogue. Carefully researched and taken from Koppel's interviews with everybody from former military generals to electric company ...more
Laura
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Lights Out was a fascinating -- if terrifying -- expose on the possibility and repercussions of a terrorist cyberattack on the U.S. power grid. Ted Koppel explains the weaknesses in our power grid system and lists the many terrorist organizations that could attack the U.S. in this manner.

Few people realize how devastating it would be to have the power cut over a large block of states for a period of weeks or longer. Not only would the lights and heat go out, but people's access to water, food,
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Trish
Mar 22, 2016 marked it as put-aside
Just couldn't do it. This was available at my library when other things I wanted were not. It just kills me. What is it about these OWGs who retire and then say, "oh wait--you guys are going to get TOTALLY screwed very soon...it's C-O-M-M-M-I-N-G." Why didn't they think about that while they were working, when they should have been thinking and doing something about it? I'm talking about the same OWGs who brought us climate change and water restrictions...they made their money and had a wild ...more
Mary Ronan Drew
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Late on the afternoon of Tuesday, 17 November 2015, at the height of a terrific windstorm here in Spokane, Washington, we lost power. It didn't come back until around noon on Sunday, the 22nd. Five days without electricity and so without heat, refrigeration, hot water, cooking, or lights. What's more, since the outage was so widespread there were no gas stations, grocery stores, doctors offices, pharmacies, restaurants, or other businesses open. City hall, schools, and even the library were ...more
Casey Hampton
The title is fairly self-explanatory. No magic monkeys, no miniature unicorns, but there are PWGs (preppers with guns). Ted Koppel presents the likeliness of a cyber-attack cutting our power grid and what would happen.

Yes, this will make you paranoid. And yes, it made me buy an emergency radio with a nifty crank... just in case.

Koppel scares the pants off his readers by showing how vulnerable our power grid is, how it has already been tampered with, and what might happen if we are hit. The
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Dannalie Diaz
Jan 13, 2016 rated it liked it
I wavered between a 2 and 3 star rating on this one. On the one hand, Ted Koppel's argument--that a cyberattack could knock out one or multiple power grids, plunging a large part of the country in darkness and displacing people and resources--is compelling and, quite frankly, surprising that it hasn't happened yet. The world is full of sh*ts who are smart enough to pull this off, in my opinion. On the other hand, I felt pretty dumb and slightly talked down to while reading. It just wasn't ...more
Tulay
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ted Koppel did excellent research and interviews, this could happen we know it. Saw it in the news and read stories about what happened in Louisiana, how our government handles disasters. In person I saw it in New Jersey, after the hurricane Sandy. How Red Cross and Coast guard was riding around, but couldn't get any help from them.
This book should open our eyes, we have to be prepared to cope with any kind of disaster. Only communities that is really prepared are Amish and Morman, why can't the
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Vannetta Chapman
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow. This book has a lot of eye-opening information about the vulnerability of our power grid.
Don't read it if you're easily spooked!
It is a bit slow reading in parts, but overall a good read and awesome research if you're writing dystopian fiction!
Karen
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
I enjoy an occasional foray into exploring the real potential of societal cataclysm and this book certainly checked that box. I personally have virtually no way of verifying most of the information Koppel gathered for this work, especially as it relates to the cyber security of the nation's power grid. But one really doesn't need facts to think about the immediate and long term crippling consequences of a protracted, widespread power outage. YIKES.

How likely this is to become an actuality I
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Cristina
Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Despite our "deep seated fascination with our own annihilation" (evidenced by pop culture overflowing with nightmarish doomsday scenarios in which humanity has to adapt to a post-apocalyptic way of life), there is a frighteningly realistic threat we have little-to-no preparation for: a cyberattack knocking out an electrical grid. It seems part of the purpose of this book is laying the groundwork for Koppel to be able to look back and say "HA! TOLD YA SO" when it inevitably goes down, because ...more
Jennifer
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
ok, don't judge me. I really liked this. The only reason I started it was because I wanted to be able put a non-fiction title on my "dystopia" shelf (I swear).

The overview of how our power grid actually works was weirdly fascinating. Koppel's investigative reporting into how vulnerable the grid is to sabotage/attack was... well, sobering. And our lack of any kind of national recovery plan in the event of such an attack was not terribly surprising, really (Americans generally see themselves as
...more
Jen
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Lights Out: A Cyber Attack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath is a cautionary tale.

Ted Koppel's intensely researched book presents a scenario that trumps dystopian novels about zombies and plague--because this threat is real.

I've been pondering this review for over a week. If a cyber attack on the electric grid resulted in widespread, lengthy outages, the consequences would be catastrophic. Koppel's interviews with experts in many fields, governmental and private industry, make this
...more
Joan
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A cyber attack is a real possibility and the U.S. is not prepared.

Koppel reports on the assessment of those in the military and intelligence communities, as well as academic, industrial, and civic authorities. Our electric grid is extremely vulnerable, he reports. I'd read novels about an EMP attack and, while such an attack would be serious, a cyber attack is a more serious threat.

I appreciated his explanation of the mechanics of the power grid and why it is vulnerable to attack. It was hard to
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Manny
Sep 02, 2018 added it
There is nothing really new here for me. As an InfoSec Practitioner, I have followed most of what Koppel covers here daily from the 'Cyber' aspect. However this books covers more about prepping and survival than the actual cyber attack. A lot of the material here though, is covered in the other book I read last year 'Cyber Storm' by Matthew Mather. I do however believe that it is important to be prepared. Maybe not to the degree that some of the interviewees stated. I do think it is important to ...more
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Ted Koppel, a 42-year veteran of ABC News, was anchor and managing editor of Nightline from 1980 to 2005. New York University recently named Koppel one of the top 100 American journalists of the past 100 years. He has won every significant television award, including 8 George Foster Peabody Awards, 11 Overseas Press Club Awards (one more than the previous record holder, Edward R. Murrow), 12 ...more

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“It is precisely among young, educated radicals, warns Austin, that a new generation of cyber warriors will be recruited.” 1 likes
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