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BLOG > November 2019 > Report Shows Utilities Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks

Report Shows Utilities Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks

Most of the population receives utilities such as electricity, natural gas, and water. Advancements in technology allow companies better control of these systems. The same advancements can allow intrusions by advanced hackers. Read More Here!!

Cyber Attacks on Utilities 

Nuclear Power Plant Control Room with Automation
Most commercial businesses and homes receive electricity, natural gas, and water as part of their basic utility package. Each utility service possesses an array of equipment, creating its infrastructure. Natural gas and water supply depended on the availability of the product and the electrical supply for automation, controls, and equipment. These utilities have backup generators to supply power to their system during a utility power failure. It is possible to have natural gas and water supply when the utility power fails.

The electrical utility consists of a power generating plant (fossil fuel, green, or nuclear). The plant generates electricity and distributes it through high-voltage lines to substations. Substations step-down voltages and distribute to businesses and residences. All of the power plants are connected to a grid. This grid network includes Canada. The grid can support the loss of a single power plant, but if the automated controls of that power plant are disabled through a cyber attack, power can be secured to all of its customers until repairs are completed.

Assessing Cyber Threat to Utilities

Ponemon Institute partnered with Siemens Industrial Cyber and conducted a study on our utility infrastructure's ability to resist cyber attacks. The study was divided into the following areas:
  • Risk - Studies risks reported across the industry, including damage that would result from threats:
    • 64% of respondents state sophisticated attacks are a top challenge
    • 54% of respondents state an attack on critical infrastructure is expected in the next 12 months
    • 56% of respondents report at least one attack resulting in loss of power or an outage in the last 12 months
  • Readiness - Views how organizations are responding to a threat environment and self-assessment capabilities compared to anticipated attacks:
    • 42% rated their cyber readiness as high
    • 31% rated their ability to respond to or contain a breach as a high probability
  • Solutions - How the organization can improve capabilities to stay ahead of the threat
    • 56% report using a risk management solution to protect high-value assets
Most all agree that attacks on Operational Technology (OT) are the most susceptible type of cyber-attack, and is the most difficult to fight against. Go to Caught in the Crosshairs: Are Utilities keeping up with the Industrial Cyber Threat? for details of the complete study.

The information from this study adds power outages because it includes the threat of a cyber attack to the list of circumstances that could cause a loss of utility power. Eastern Grid, Western Grid, and the Texas (ERCOT) Grid are the three grids in the United States. A cyber attack on one or more of the grids could result in large areas without power. The amount of time until power restoration is determined by how quickly repairs take. Standby or backup generators are the answer to utility power loss. Generator Source has been in the generator supply and service business for more than 35 years. To view our inventory, go to Generators.

Preparing for Power Outages

Cummins 1500 kW Generator Unloading Operation
Technology advancements help supply cleaner and more dependable power. These same advancements add the possibility of a cyber attack to the list of events that can result in utility power loss. Hospitals, health care facilities, and data centers all have critical power requirements. A diesel or Natural Gas (NG) generator supplies backup power for them to operate during a loss of power. 

Other industries may only have required emergency power. During utility power loss, only required emergency and egress circuits are powered. Business operations are secured until power is restored. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) introduced Voluntary Power Interruption to the equation. They secure power to the grid where the chance of a wildfire is high. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that economists predict the impact of as much as $1 billion.

Upgrade Backup Power Capability

Industries that are not required to have operational backup power capabilities are now faced with the real potential for loss of utility power for extended amounts of time. Time without power represents time without production. Lengthy outages can cost large amounts of money to both the company and its employees. 

The cost of adding backup power to allow operation during an extended outage can be a fraction of the cost of lost production. This process can be divided into the following steps:
  1. Determine the amount of power needed for an upgrade. Installing watt meters on individual circuits will determine the power needed to operate each piece of equipment. The addition of all power consumed (watts) will indicate the amount of additional power.
  2. Select the type of upgrade. This can include the addition of an extra generator or the replacement of an existing generator with one of greater capabilities. When upgrading backup power capabilities, additional distribution, circuit protection, and paralleling panels (multiple generator applications) can be required to complete the upgrade.
  3. Select the generator. Outdoor generators are a turn-key solution to upgrading a backup power solution. The engine, radiator, alternator (generator end), and fuel tank are enclosed in a weather-resistant or weather-tight sound attenuated enclosure. An outdoor generator must be placed on a  flat, level surface that is rated for the generator operational weight, and it's ready for connection.
Pre-owned and surplus generators offer initial savings. Many pre-owned generators have low hours of operation. All generators must pass a 31-point inspection prior to sales listing. Each generator featured in our inventory is housed on our facility grounds and ready to ship. Often, we can arrange for shipping within 24 hours of purchase completion. Our large vendor network allows us the ability to arrange crane services at customer locations. Contact Us for more information on our generator inventory and our shop services.

Diesel Blog Team | 10/1/2019 1:42:27 PM | 0 comments
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