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In-depth cybersecurity report by Smart Grid Today urges 14 actions

As malicious cyber-attacks on grid grow, increased smart grid automation and internet connectivity create vulnerabilities linked to mundane actions

Rockville, MD (June 17, 2015) –Modern Markets Intelligence (MMI) today published “The 2015 Fix”, a comprehensive and illuminating report on the state of cybersecurity inside electric utilities in the United States. The report is the result of a four-month-long Smart Grid Today investigation. It concludes with 14 suggested actions, many meant for utilities, that experts consulted for the report believe will yield big results.

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities abound inside U.S. utilities: Digital SCADA systems are thought to be air-gapped but are not. Internet service provider systems used for SCADA systems are thought to be private but are not. Utility staff members have been wrongly presuming using a SCADA protocol across the internet was obscure enough to avoid hacking.

And risks are posed by software bugs, SCADA-system programming errors, substation maintenance mishaps, payment kiosks in shopping malls, utility employees checking email and surfing the internet at work and online systems that let consumers track energy use and savings.

The vulnerabilities expose the nation to risks that might not be obvious. Experts told Smart Grid Todaythat countries like Iran and North Korea can cause damage to critical infrastructures – and a hostile country could first cripple the US power grid and then launch nuclear weapons.

All kinds of malicious cyber-attacks on the grid are growing, including attacks that exploit what the industry calls “zero-day” vulnerabilities – ones without a patch or fix. At the same time, increased smart grid automation and internet connectivity create vulnerabilities linked to mistakes, negligence, misguided intentions and other mundane actions.

Renewable energy sources are also a major cybersecurity vulnerability for utilities and their smart grid technology providers.

There is a bit of hope for those concerned about cybersecurity – but in the form of tough love.

Many utilities in the last 18 months have moved to insure themselves against problems caused by cyber attacks, but one out of 10 initially are turned down because their systems are not sufficiently protected, according to one of the 12 experts interviewed for “The 2015 Fix.”

“As the first mass deployment of the internet of things (IOT), the smart grid shows cybersecurity is an IOT pain point that cannot be brushed aside,” MMI VP of Editorial Brett Brune said. “We took pains to not only explain the intricacies of a smattering of vulnerabilities but also carefully examine what positive steps smart grid stakeholders can take today to address the main cybersecurity risks of 2015.”

“The 2015 Fix” presents 14 actions experts recommend smart grid stakeholders take today. Four of those actions:

  • Consider one-way OT (operational technology) connectivity to the outside world;
  • Get cybersecurity insurance;
  • Call on fellow Regional Transmission Organization members to set security standards, and
  • Develop programs for patch management, monitoring/intrusion detection and disaster/attack recovery.

“This report includes more details on these critical steps, as well as the other 10 recommendations from the experts interviewed for our 2015 cybersecurity report,” MMI Publisher Sam Spencer said. “We hope this valuable information will help secure the industry that everyone in our society relies on so dearly every day.”

Details about Smart Grid Today's "The 2015 Fix" is available at www.smartgridtoday.com/the2015fix or by calling +1-301-769-6804 (1-888-471-4447 toll-free in the US and Canada).

ABOUT SMART GRID TODAY

Smart Grid Today, the publication of record for the smart grid industry since 2009, delivers daily, unbiased, comprehensive and original reporting on emerging trends, applications and policies driving the modern utility industry. Our signature format features highly concise and easy-to-understand news copy based on trusted reporting, exclusive interviews, informed analysis and strategic insights that our subscribers rely on to succeed every business day. Modern Markets Intelligence Inc publishes Smart Grid Today.

CONTACTS

Brett Brune
VP of Editorial
Modern Markets Intelligence Inc.
213-341-1516
brett@mmihq.com

Season Crawford
VP of Marketing
Modern Markets Intelligence Inc.
888-678-4480
season@mmihq.com

 

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