Department of Homeland Security

We’ve all read the cyber-attack and data breach headlines about Stuxnet, Flame, Shamoon, and most recently, Red October. Critical infrastructure cyber attacks were even a focus of the President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

Organizations that operate critical infrastructure – including oil and gas companies, utilities, nuclear facilities, and more – is well aware it’s under attack. The problem right now is that many of these organizations are struggling to figure out how the protect themselves from potentially devastating attacks. Keep reading →

Six months ago two Louisiana sheriffs were shot to death and two more injured in the parking lot of a Valero oil refinery. Six years ago Saudi police halted a pair of armed terrorist attacks on the world’s largest refinery, in one case opening fire on a car that exploded near the facility’s gates.

Guns are more than a theoretical issue for the energy business, which controls much of the world’s most vital – and most vulnerable infrastructure. As the US contends with a public debate given new urgency by a series of high-profile shootings, the issue of security and gun control in and around key energy infrastructure is once again front of mind for many of the bodies charged with monitoring energy security and devising responses to potential threats. Keep reading →

Utility companies confront security challenges daily, especially those related to securing the North American power grid. Increasingly, they’re responding by implementing comprehensive cyber security plans across their business networks and their generation, transmission and distribution systems.

From broad-based threats against corporate e-mail systems to targeted spear-phishing attacks aimed at nuclear operations, utilities face new challenges regularly. A focus area is the regular increase of vulnerabilities reported in the security of industrial control systems that monitor and control manage the power grid, as noted by the Department of Homeland Security and the media. Keep reading →

Cyber security is of course a major issue for utilities. The risks, the potential vulnerabilities, the investments. And probably that nagging question: Is our security as good as we think it is?

A new tool from the Energy Department, the Cyber Security Self-Evaluation Survey Tool, has been released to help utilities answer that question. Part of an overall White House initiative to develop a Cyber Security Capability Maturity Model for the electricity industry, the new tool “helps electric utilities and grid operators identify opportunities to further develop their own cyber security capabilities by posing a series of questions that focus on areas including situational awareness and threat and vulnerability management.” Keep reading →

To the experts, it’s a Geomagnetic Disturbance, or GMD. To most of us, it’s a solar flare.
Whatever its name, it can fry a large electricity system, burn out controls, and black out square miles in seconds, like the massive flare that brought down the grid in Canada’s Quebec province for nine hours in 1989.

Now, the power industry and regulators responsible for electric reliability are trying to figure out how to stop it, or at least minimize the potential damage. Keep reading →