U.S. Grid in ‘Imminent Danger’ From Cyber-Attack, Study Says — Excerpt: “The U.S. Energy Department says the electricity system ‘faces imminent danger’ from cyber-attacks, which are growing more frequent and sophisticated, but grid operators say they are already on top of the problem.
In the department’s landmark Quadrennial Energy Review, it warned that a widespread power outage caused by a cyberattack could undermine 'critical defense infrastructure' as well as much of the economy and place at risk the health and safety of millions of citizens. The report comes amid increased concern over cybersecurity risks as U.S. intelligence agencies say Russian hacking was aimed at influencing the 2016 presidential election.”
The U.S. Energy Department’s 494-page report was released during the final days of the Obama administration, and it offered this clear warning for 2017 and beyond: "Cyber threats to the electricity system are increasing in sophistication, magnitude, and frequency. The current cybersecurity landscape is characterized by rapidly evolving threats and vulnerabilities, juxtaposed against the slower-moving deployment of defense measures."
The new report offered a long list of key findings for policymakers, and here are a few:
- Advanced metering infrastructure has had a significant impact on the nature of interactions between the electricity consumer and the electric system, allowing two-way flow of both electricity and information and enabling the integration of assets behind the meter into the larger electric grid.
- Interconnection standards and interoperability are critical requirements for seamless integration of grid connected devices, appliances, and building energy management systems, without which grid modernization and further energy efficiency gains may be hindered.
- Evolving consumer preferences for electricity services are creating new opportunities.
- The convergence of the electric grid with information and communications technology creates a platform for value creation and the provision of new services beyond energy.
- There is enormous potential for electric end-use efficiency improvement based on (1) technical analyses, and (2) the differences in energy efficiency performance between states and utilities with and without ambitious electric end-use efficiency policies and programs.
- There are no commonly used metrics for measuring grid resilience. Several resilience metrics and measures have been proposed; however, there has been no coordinated industry or government initiative to develop a consensus on or implement standardized resilience metrics.
- Low-income and minority communities are disproportionately impacted by disaster-related damage to critical infrastructure. These communities with fewer resources may not have the means to mitigate or adapt to natural disasters and disproportionately rely on public services, including community shelters, during disasters.