Smarter Electric Grids More Vulnerable to Hackers


grid_m-feature-300x226The U.S. electric grid is constantly under attack despite attempts by utilities to boost physical security and cyber defenses

*Article courtesy Israel Homeland Security

Regulators have increasingly focused on physical security of the grid since last year’s attack on a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. substation in California Energy Commission, where unknown attackers cut telephone lines to the Metcalf substation, then disabled seventeen transformers with precise gunfire. Cyberattacks, however, are becoming more of a concern.

Government Technology reports that in 2013 a DHS cyber emergency team responded to more than eighty incidents involving energy companies. “If you’re a utility today, depending on your scale, you’re under attack at this moment,” said Robert Weisenmiller, chairman of the California Energy Commission.

Efforts by utilities to make the electric grid “smarter” by deploying sensors, automation, and communications technology have created new ways for hackers to sabotage the electric grid; and while cyber security spending has increased to eliminate some weaknesses in the smart grid, the threat still remains. Smart meters still operate side by side with old and sometimes outdated hardware systems.

According to HLS News Wire eliminating the threat of cyber attacks is impossible. Instead, utilities must continue to explore new ways to prevent, respond, and share information of an attack with federal agencies and fellow utilities. Scott Aaronson, senior director for national security policy at the Edison Electric Institute, said some utilities are deploying government-funded, Cybersecurity Risk Information Sharing Program, which monitors utility networks for signs of hacker activity using unclassified and classified information to identify threats. Reports of new malware can then be shared with government agencies and utilities.


This article was reposted with permission from: Israel’s Homeland Security

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