Grid Security

Survey finds cyberstrikes are #1 concern of utilities

In Utility Dive’s fourth annual State of the Electric Utility Survey, more than 600 utility professionals named cyber and physical security the most pressing concern for their companies, with 72% saying it is either “important” or “very important” today.

Whereas security issues ranked sixth among utility concerns in the 2015 and 2016 surveys, they registered above a number of high-profile sector issues this year, including distributed energy policy and rate design.

Doug Westlund, senior vice president at electric utility consultant AESI believes increased attention to the cyber threat from the media and industry groups set the security issue apart from other concerns.

“The Ukraine attack was well documented and it was well understood the same attack could happen in North America,” he told Utility Dive.  “And utilities are starting to share information on cyber-attacks and threats.”

Westlund and others say the attack continues to animate utility sector planning for enhanced security. But as new distributed resources and grid technologies add more complexity to the system, keeping security practices up to date is likely to be a continuous job.

At the report’s writing, there had been no successful cyber attacks against U.S. utilities that caused permanent or long term damage to power system operations. But, researchers cautioned, there has been “a steady rise in cyber and physical security related events.”

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