24 May 2013

A spotlight on grid insecurity

Drawing from responses from more than 100 utilities across America, a new report shows that the nation’s electric grid remains highly vulnerable to attacks from Iran and North Korea, or other threats like geomagnetic storms from solar activity.

The electric grid is the target of numerous and daily cyber attacks. One utility said that there were 10,000 attempted attacks each month, and others describe the level of potential incursions as “daily”, “constant”, “malicious” and “seeking to gain access to internal systems.”

...Most utilities comply with mandatory standards only, not additional voluntary ones, and do so unevenly. For example, while almost all utilities said they complied with mandatory Stuxnet standards, only 21 percent of industry-owned utilities, 44 percent of municipally- or cooperatively-owned utilities and 62.5 percent of federal entities reported compliance with voluntary Stuxnet recommendations that industry did not agree to mandate.

Most utilities have not taken concrete steps to reduce the vulnerability of the grid to geomagnetic storms and it is unclear whether the number of available spare transformers is adequate...

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