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Report Calls for Better Backstops to Protect Power Grid From Cyberattacks

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The control room of a German utility hit by a cyberattack in 2012.

A new report says the U.S. energy industry and government are ill-equipped to counter the threat of cyberattack.


A recent Bipartisan Policy Center report found that despite increasing anxiety over the possibility of a cyberattack on the power grid, the U.S. energy industry and government are ill-equipped to counter the threat.

In addition, federal rules designed to protect the electric system from cyberattack are inadequate because they do not give companies an incentive to continually improve and adapt to a changing threat.

Although the U.S. government has focused on the high-voltage power grid, less work has been done on the lower-voltage distribution system, which could cause problems that would propagate up the chain, according to the report.

The report, which recommends establishing an organization to conduct peer-to-peer audits and disseminate best practices, was led by Michael V. Hayden, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In a panel discussion about the report on Friday, Hayden said cyberwarfare is "a domain that favors the attacker," and noted most hacking against utilities is done by people trying to steal financial data. However, he said experts fear an act of war, or what he called "recreational espionage."

The report also examined the issue that public utility commissioners have trouble determining the value of such utility expenses.

From The New York Times
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