How Energy Companies Are Leading The Way In Cybersecurity

In today’s increasingly digital world, the secure transmission of confidential information has become a priority for both individuals and the world’s largest public institutions.


Since 90 percent of the energy infrastructure in the United States is privately owned, leading energy companies are implementing cybersecurity practices designed to reduce the impact of any incident that could jeopardize energy delivery. However, sometimes these measures fail.

On March 19, the computer screens at Norsk Hydro went dark. It system the Norwegian energy and mining giant has been infected with a new strain of the virus-the extortioner called LockerGoga. 

The situation was «dire,» Norsk Hydro chief financial officer eyvind Kallevik said at a hastily convened press conference.

In today’s increasingly digital world, the secure transmission of confidential information has become a priority for both individuals and the world’s largest public institutions.
In today’s increasingly digital world, the secure transmission of confidential information has become a priority for both individuals and the world’s largest public institutions. CONGRATULATE
Last night, a cyberattack was launched on a single system and quickly spread across the company’s network, blocking digital files and devices important to its core operations. As with other ransomware attacks, Norsk Hydro was given a full choice: pay a ransom to unlock systems, or pay a price for cutting production.

In the nearly six years since the advent of CryptoLocker, from late 2013 to spring 2014, these types of attacks have become common business of the worst type. Every 40 seconds, a business is attacked by ransomware. The invasions have cost businesses a staggering $ 8 billion a year and growing.

If the target company is vital to critical infrastructure, the impact will be even greater. For example, if an attack compromises an energy system — a network of synchronized energy suppliers and consumers connected by transmission and distribution lines — everyone who relies on it will suffer the consequences in the form of energy loss.

Protection and prevention

Taking proactive steps to combat this grim possibility, the U.S. House of representatives recently introduced a bill (HR 1975) to create a cybersecurity Advisory Committee under the Department of homeland security. The 35-member Committee of experts on cybersecurity will make recommendations for the development and implementation of policies to combat cybercrime, such as ransomware attacks, against the country’s critical infrastructure.

The energy industry is also stepping up its activities to protect its assets from damage caused by a major cyber attack, such as the one that was successfully launched against Ukraine’s power grid in December 2015. Hackers were able to compromise the it systems of three power distribution companies, effectively disrupting the supply of electricity to end users.

To prevent a similar attack on American shores, the Federal energy regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final rule in 2018 lowering the threshold for a «reported cybersecurity incident.» The purpose of the rule is to improve data collection to better analyze the risk of cyberattacks for defense and response purposes.

FERC also directed the North American electric reliability Corp., a nonprofit institution overseeing the sustainability of power grids in North America, «strengthen mandatory reporting of cybersecurity incidents, including incidents that may facilitate subsequent attempts to damage the reliable operation of the main power system,» according to the filing rules.

Releasing the last rule, then Chairman of FERC Kevin McIntyre stressed resistant aspects of cyber security problems.

«Cyber threats to the entire energy supply system are constantly changing, and they require constant vigilance,» he said.

New tools at the forefront of the cyber frontier

Today’s energy industry plays a vital role in ensuring the flow of electricity to businesses and consumers, supporting our modern economy. So it’s no surprise that hostile governments, terrorist organizations and hackers in private practice have stymied the industry by disrupting utilities and energy suppliers. The energy sector now rightly recognizes these cyberattacks as a major business risk, posing as much of a threat to major infrastructure as floods or fires.

To help the industry reduce the frequency and severity of these threats, leading energy companies have partnered with government agencies such as the Department of energy, and sometimes even with competitors, to make significant strides in improving their cybersecurity practices.

With solutions designed specifically for the energy sector, new innovations make it easier for companies to protect important information and maintain online operations. This is not a liability

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