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Major IT players weigh in on cyber security in America

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Monday, May 06, 2013

Cyber security professionals, smart grid vendors and solutions providers have been warning utilities for years that cyber security is one of the most serious concerns for the electric distribution industry, and as they made their voices heard, sporadic, somewhat benign cyber attacks weren't enough to get the attention of many. 

But now, as cyber attacks have increased in numbers and severity, more companies are taking the threats seriously, and some of the most influential members of the IT industry are speaking about the gravity of the current situation, Smart Grid News reports. 

According to the media outlet, the recent AGRION Energy and Sustainability Summit in New York attracted leaders in the sector who discussed the current holes in cyber security that could potentially allow cyber attackers a way into critical infrastructure. IBM Energy Security Leader Andy Bochman noted that "there's even more awareness now," and the his company recommends "utilities consider a fresh look at fulfilling their cybersecurity functions."

The importance of strong cyber security has grown as more grid assets, which were once isolated and not a part of any communications technology system, link up to various wireless communication platforms. This immediately makes IT systems more vulnerable to attack, Bochman noted, as smart grid technologies proliferate throughout the grid, so have the opportunities for hackers to exploit these openings and new access points. 

According to the news source, IBM vice president for smart physical infrastructure David Bartlett spoke at the summit, where he stated that the best way for utilities to beef up their cyber security is to completely reassess how their own IT system works with its cyber security operations. The easiest way for utilities to do this, he said, is to make the head of security a higher position in the management structure, which would show everyone, from employees to investors, that the company doesn't take cyber attacks lightly. 

"Most utilities have done an excellent job to date but most treat cybersecurity as a black art," Bochman said. 

This is just the first change, however, as making this adjustment would ensure the actual switch out or upgrade of hardware and software would go as smoothly as possible. 

"Lots of companies don't even know where they are - they need to understand their current risk profile better," Bochman added. 

SUBNET can help companies boost their cyber security by efficiently installing intelligent electronic devices that adhere to stringent NERC CIP regulations, ensuring power companies avoid costly fines. 

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