Cybersecurity threats and industrialized IT attacks are increasingly becoming a huge problem for utility systems. Unfortunately, utilities find it hard to detect and mitigate these threats since they keep evolving as technology advances. Typically, a modern-day electric grid that can be operated remotely is more flexible than the older, rigid legacy systems. However, such advancements on the electric grid make the process of controlling cybersecurity even more challenging.
Furthermore, cybercriminals have become craftier, and utilities find it difficult to defend their systems against their guile. Therefore, utilities need to collaborate with the right IT organizations to deal with the current cybersecurity threat landscape and achieve their reliability goals. This article focuses on helping utility companies invest in the right systems and service providers to prevent cyber attacks.
Terrorist organizations have always attempted to attack the nation's electric system because it's the entry point to other critical structures of public services. According to a report released by Bloomberg, the White House has a plan to enhance the US power grid and make it more secure against cyberattacks. The National Security Council is focused on safeguarding utilities against attempted cyber attacks by enhancing the companies' monitoring equipment.
Municipal utilities offer vital services and run critical infrastructure, which means they provide cyberattackers with multiple ways to cause confusion and extort money. Fortunately, there are some ways utilities can enhance their electric grid security, including:
1: Become Resilient
Cybersecurity threats on the electric grid are substantial and growing. Threat actors or hackers have also become so refined at hacking the electricity systems. A successful cyberattack on the power grid could trigger loss of control on critical processes and devices, which can cause severe disruptions and economic damage. While preventing these cyber-attacks may seem daunting, utilities can exercise some level of resilience.
Digitalizing the electricity systems is one way of transitioning to clean energy. However, if automation of connectivity is not executed safely, it increases the potential of cybersecurity risks. Utilities should find ways of withstanding, adapting, and recovering from cyberattacks without disrupting the continuity of critical operations. Equipment providers and IT service providers should also collaborate with utility companies' policymakers to ensure the entire value chain is cyber resilient.
Additionally, the government can enhance cyber resilience through various regulatory and policy approaches. Prescriptive approaches allow for compliance monitoring systems that are more streamlined. Less prescriptive framework-based approaches allow for a combination of a range of other coherent approaches. More importantly, each policy that touches on cyber resilience should be reviewed regularly to keep pace with the evolving cybersecurity threats.
2: Identify Risks
Operators of critical infrastructural systems in utility companies should identify, evaluate, and communicate any potential cybersecurity risks accordingly. They should conduct system-level risk assessments to identify key vulnerabilities and threat scenarios in their systems. Utilities need to classify interfaces, assets, and systems to assign appropriate security measures based on the level of system risk. Utilities should also consider facilitating the sharing of cybersecurity risk information.
3: Manage and Mitigate Cybersecurity Risks
Due to the complex nature of the electricity system-value chain, all stakeholders should collaborate to perk up readiness across the board. Access to the right tools and a guide on the best practices to observe regarding cyber resilience is also crucial. Electricity companies should implement the right risk management strategies and identify cybersecurity threats in their systems promptly. This also applies to their information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) aspects of the risk management strategy.
Besides, developing systems for testing and validating effective risk management strategies is very critical. Utilities ought to carefully analyze the certifications of the products and services they purchase.
4: Assess Progress
Without tracking progress over time, utilities will not know whether they're well prepared to handle their electric grid security. So, with the right tools and mechanisms, they can effectively monitor their risks and preparedness. This is important for both the operations of the utility companies and regulatory authorities, who need to know the goals of their strategic objectives.
The process of monitoring preparedness against emerging threats should be continuous. That is why partnering with the intelligence community is necessary. IT service providers have the resources to develop active threat hunting mechanisms to help you prevent cyberattacks and limit damage from high-end cyber attacks. The intelligence community will also conduct active monitoring of your entire electricity system-value chain to detect vulnerabilities.
5: Prompt Response and Recovery
Utilities should establish effective ways of coping with cyber attacks. They need to improve all your systems' response and recovery procedures and implement robust mechanisms to help prevent unnecessary disruptions to critical operations. Besides, main stakeholders should have their allocated responsibilities clearly defined. More importantly, they should execute regular response and recovery exercises and find ways of adapting new practices based on the lessons learned. Regulators also play a significant role in stimulating information logging and sharing so that actual incidents can be accurately analyzed.
Widespread connectivity and cloud computing are some of the new generation technological advancements that have worsened cyberattack risks. However, that doesn't mean that electricity consumers have not reaped enormous benefits from digitalization and automation. The nation's electricity system is directly connected to almost all the essential public services and vital infrastructure.
Therefore, system operators working in these utility companies and industry regulators should be vigilant in dealing with cybersecurity threats. If all utilities become committed to doing whatever it takes to prevent cyber attacks on the electric power grid, then hackers will be doomed.
Overall, defending the nation's power grid against cyber attacks is time-consuming and very costly for all stakeholders. However, with the right IT services company capable of ensuring all your data and information is fully protected against cyber attacks, you can rest assured of securing your infrastructure and boosting your bottom line. Orbis Solution in Las Vegas offers organizations around-the-clock protection against cybersecurity threats. Contact us to learn more on how to enhance your electric grid system against cyber criminals.
Orbis Solutions, Inc., in Las Vegas, Henderson, Summerlin and throughout Nevada, has developed creative, strategic and cost-effective technical solutions for a wide variety of clients. Offering a diverse range of products and services, Orbis provides IT solutions to promote your company’s productivity and profitability, and help you sort through the latest-hyped technology, so you can select the best hardware, software or service for your business needs.