When you talk to someone about cyber security the first thought that springs to mind is the Hollywood picture of a spotty faced youth sitting in a darkened room, hacking his way into various government databases just to prove he can – or of high-tech criminal masterminds, stealing secret identities and exposing undercover operatives to the peril of the free world. The reality, however is both similar and somewhat more mundane – a combination of high-tech theft, espionage and big money, and the more day to day lapses in security and processes.
Worldwide, utilities are experiencing an increase in outside cyber probes to identify and exploit weaknesses in utility networks. While traditional security focusses on internal corporate email and accounting networks, security risks are shifting to the electric grid itself, and we have introduced the threat ourselves – by adding more and more automation to a grid which was not initially designed to operate as an integrated whole.
Cyber security isn’t just a power or utility sector problem – it is a challenge in any industry which has multiple connections within a system. It is applicable to any region of the world and the only real differentiator is the level of seriousness with which it is treated. The truth is that the risk of cyber attacks is becoming more pronounced as we become more connected.