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Security experts doubt Congress' ability to protect America's critical infrastructure

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Monday, August 13, 2012

U.S. critical infrastructure, including the nation's extensive and all-important power grid, is vulnerable to cyber security attacks that could have disastrous consequences. While Congress is working feverishly to bar the door and keep attacks at bay, a recent survey showed most cyber security experts don't believe policies can solve the problem.

According to PC World, cyber security experts say a cyber attack that rivals anything seen in a futuristic novel is a very real possibility, and that the attackers may be miles ahead of U.S. defense systems. Currently, the Cyber Security Act of 2012 is making its way through Congress, which was developed after consultation with some of the country's largest tech firms, including Microsoft, Cisco and Oracle.

But a recent survey, conducted by nCircle, suggests these government and private entities may be working to no avail.

In the survey, nCircle asked "Will government regulation improve information security for critical infrastructure?" to which 60 percent of respondents said "No."

"While the U.S. government has some outstanding security researchers, they are confined to the Department of Defense and other cabinet agencies where the focus is on gathering data, not sharing it," said Lamar Bailey, director of security research and development for nCircle.

So what is a better solution for preparing the nation's electric grid for an onslaught of highly advanced cyber attacks? According to PCWorld, this task will fall to those who understand the grid best, such as utilities, smart grid vendors and grid operators, rather than politicians.

The devastating effects of a cyber attack may be exemplified best by the fallout from the Stuxnet and Flame worms that hit Iranian critical infrastructure.

According to Tech Week Europe, the worm has been so devastating that it has forced the country to take its critical infrastructure offline. Reza Taghipour, the country’s telecommunications minister, said the decision to disconnect from the internet was the only way to protect itself against the virus, which Iran believes is controlled by "one or two" countries.

As wireless communications are increasingly used in North America's power grid, similar vulnerabilities will be seen. SUBNET products help utilities securely gather data from their intelligent electronic devices and transmit it across a wide range of communication networks, helping to improve the security of the continent's electricity network. 

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