Cybersecurity a near-constant problem for many power utilities, report finds

Sponsored by

U.S. electric power utilities are facing, in some cases, a constant threat from cybersecurity breaches on critical infrastructure, according to a report by two Democratic lawmakers.

Representatives Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and issued their report May 21 during a House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting on cyber attacks and cybersecurity.

The report, titled “Electric Grid Vulnerability: Industry Responses Reveal Security Gaps,” surveyed about 160 utilities and recorded their experiences with maintaining reliable electric service in the face of cyber attacks.

A handful of surveyed utilities said they experienced attacks on a daily, frequent or constant basis. Cyber criminals or activist hackers are targeting the energy sector, and have been doing so for the past few years, according to the report.

The Obama administration has been warning about cyber attacks against the power grid for about a year now, and has directed the applicable federal agencies to draft of new cybersecurity standards.

The survey by Waxman and Markey has drawn the notice of several trade groups in the electric utility sector.

The American Public Power Association (APPA) said the report did not credit the energy sector with having done enough to protect infrastructure from attack.

"In fact, many of the questions asked of utilities for the report were so specific and confidential in nature that for security reasons, they could not be answered by our members for fear of potentially violating the very standards with which the government has mandated us to comply," according to a statement by the APPA. "Drawing such broad conclusions about the electric sector’s, and public power’s, level of security is therefore misleading."

The utility industry, according to the APPA, is held to a higher standard than many other industries already when it comes to cybersecurity.

"As Representatives Waxman and Markey admit in their report, the electric utility industry must comply with an extensive list of mandatory cybersecurity standards. It is important to note in fact, that the electric and nuclear industries are the only critical infrastructures that have such mandatory standards in place," according to the APPA. "As an industry, we continue to closely coordinate at high levels both amongst members of our industry and with the federal government on cyber and physical security. We will continue to utilize and strengthen those relationships as we respond to evolving threats."

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association said Waxman and Markey's report was too alarmist in tone.

"Press statements such as the one issued this morning by Rep. Markey may generate headlines in an election year but do little to further the cause; in fact they serve to divide industry and government at a time when cooperation is in America’s best interest," according to a statement by NRECA. "In an environment where the risks change rapidly, better information sharing and continuously up-dated training will do far more to protect the nation’s electric system than partisan fear mongering for political advantage."

Sponsored by

CURRENT ARTICLES

Your consumers take on distributed generation

01/30/2015 Distributed generation, often also referred to as decentralized energy, is a complex and essential topic for today’s utili...

DistribuTECH 2015 expected to be largest in event history

01/30/2015

The world's largest electricity T&D show is on track to draw more than 10,000 attendees

DistribuTECH is the place for networking

01/30/2015

Here are a few items to help plan your time and make the most of your DistribuTECH 2015 experience

Siemens to provide long-term service at Blythe Energy Center in California

01/30/2015

The customer is AltaGas Ltd, headquartered in Alberta, Canada 

DOE announces five-year renewal of funding for first energy innovation hub

01/30/2015 This will help enable the role that nuclear energy has in providing dependable and affordable energy to America while adva...

Maine activists push solar power, energy efficiency bills

01/30/2015 The six-bill package outlined by the Environmental Priorities Coalition includes measures that would provide incentives fo...

NextEra Energy will not lay off Hawaiian Electric workers after merger

01/30/2015 An official at NextEra Energy told Hawaii lawmakers that his company does not plan to lay off staff if it acquires Hawaiia...

INDUSTRY STOCKS

ON DEMAND WEBCASTS

Engaging the Small and Mid-sized Business (SMB) Marketplace

This session will outline how Duke Energy leveraged Voice of Customer insights, previous experien...

When Grid Optimization is Not Enough: Making Cents of Disruptive Change.

Electric utilities today face unprecedented volatility and business challenges. To stay competiti...

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Premium Power

Premium power is an increasingly valuable tool for utilities and municipalities, who can charge m...

The Integrated Operating Model Creating an Advanced Outage Management Environment to Control the Grid

Amy Hime, Senior Manager of Engineering and Asset Systems at Enersource, will discuss the journey...

Benefits of a Managed Service System

Attend this webinar, sponsored by Itron, to understand how utilizing managed services can optimiz...

EL&P BUYER'S GUIDE PRODUCTS

MITEM Corp

Provides CRM solutions for regulated U.S. public utilities. The product, MitemView integrates differently designed systems to share critical data a...

Resources on Demand

Manages resource requests, tracks personnel movements, and supports lodging/logistics during a power restoration event.

Smart Grids

Quanta is contributing to its customers' smart grid initiatives by installing technology on power networks to provide energy management solutions f...

Horizontal Directional Drilling

With 28 small, mid-sized and large drilling rigs, Quanta Pipeline Services is one of the largest horizontal directional contractors in the world fo...

POWERGRID PRODUCT LISTINGS

EtherMate® Industrial Ethernet - IO Modules

LioN-M ProfiNet device with 16 digital I/O channels, channels can be used universally as inputs or outputs, M12 socket, ro...

Low-Smoke Zero Halogen Premise Distribution Cable

AFL’s Low-Smoke Zero Halogen (LSZH) distribution cable offers all of the benefits of a traditional 900 µm based optical ca...

OFL280 FlexTester - Handheld OTDR

AFL's OFL280 FlexTester offers an unmatched combination of fiber test functions, ease-of-use, portability, and value.

TRM® 2.0 - Test Results Manager PC Analysis and Reporting

Test Results Manager 2.0 (TRM® 2.0) is an all-in-one analysis, viewer and reporting tool designed for use with NOYES fiber...

FEATURED ENERGY JOBS

View more Job Listings >>

POWERGRID International

October 2014
Volume 19, Issue 10
1410pg_C1digital

ELECTRIC LIGHT & POWER

October 2014
Volume 92, Issue 5
1409ELP-cover_digital