[Reuters] – Thursday marked the end of a two-day simulation with power sector entities by the North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC), which was tasked with stress-testing their emergency response and recovery plans against cyber and physical security threats.
Plots targeting electric substations and power infrastructure have surfaced recently in several parts of the United States, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, and Washington state. Some of the vandalism acts have left thousands of people without power.
“Our enemies are still searching for methods to take advantage of our networked system. Manny Cancel, senior vice president and director of NERC’s Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Centre (E-ISAC), stated, “We need to stay alert.
More than 250 people participated in the largest grid security exercise in North America, organised by the E-ISAC and included government agencies and electric and natural gas corporations, on November 14 and 15.
A growing threat of cyberattacks on the electrical grid, according to NERC, is being “guided by geopolitical events, new vulnerabilities, changes in technologies, and increasingly bold cybercriminals and hackers.”
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a warning in a study on Thursday stating that “a coordinated cyber and/or physical attack on the bulk power system or generation fuel sources, especially in conjunction with a severe cold weather event, could be particularly impactful.”
According to U.S. Department of Energy statistics dating back to 2000, data on electric disturbances recorded by utilities shows roughly 95 human-related occurrences, including cyber events and vandalism, in the first half of 2023, more than in any previous year.
NERC pushed for the development of guidelines for the electricity industry in an August study about risk mitigation from the deployment of artificial intelligence and cloud computing, as well as workforce cyber security training.