Smart Grid Cybersecurity: The Rising Threat to OT Networks Necessitates Smarter Critical Infrastructure Protection Strategies
A recently published report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlights the significant cybersecurity risks facing the nation’s power grid. One of the key findings in this report is that “the grid is becoming more vulnerable to cyberattacks - particularly those involving industrial control systems (ICS) that support grid operations.”
While cyber incidents have yet to cause a power outage on the US grid, there does appear to be legitimate cause for concern. Cyber attacks on power grids in Venezuela (2019) and the Ukraine (2016) resulted in prolonged blackouts in those countries. And closer to home, the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) reports that Russia has already infiltrated the US power grid with the aim of achieving “red button” capabilities to shut down major portions of the grid at a time of their choosing.
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When it comes to critical infrastructure protection, nothing is more sensitive than the nation’s power grid. Unlike cyber attacks on IT networks (e.g., data breaches, financial hacks, ransomware) typically aimed at financial gain, cyber-attacks on power grids can have a major impact on public safety and national security.