The utility sector has until recently been relatively isolated from cyber-based attacks, but as more devices are connected to the internet, utilities are increasingly vulnerable to such attempts. Metering & Smart Energy International editor Claire Volkwyn looks at the cyber-security needs and priorities affecting US utilities and how they are shaping standards.

Attacks are increasingly prevalent across all industries, but one industry in particular is seeing a rise in attempted breaches and hacks. The utility sector has, until recently, been relatively isolated from such attempts, but as more devices are connected to the internet, utilities are increasingly vulnerable to cyber-based attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) – a US
government service for Industrial Control systems, which monitors threats and
provides teams of experts to react to ICS incidents – shows in the pie chart below the percentage of attacks made against critical infrastructure in the fiscal year 2013, which spans October 2012 to September 2013.

‘I’ve only been in the utility space for just over two years. There are a lot of people in the utility space like me, because there aren’t too many people who have “grown up” in the utility sector who are cyber security experts’, Nadya Bartol, Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) VP of Industry Affairs and cyber security Strategist tells Metering and Smart Energy International. ‘The reality is that there are just not enough people with cybersecurity experience working in the utility sector.’

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