Instrumentation & Controls, O&M

76 Percent of North American Utilities Expect Moderate Cyberattack Risk

By Editors of Power Engineering

A survey of utility executives indicated 76 percent of those in North America believe the country faces at least a moderate risk of electricity supply interruption from a cyberattack.

The survey, conducted by Accenture, indicated 57 percent of respondents said they’re most concerned by an interruption of the power supply from cyberattacks, while 43 percent indicated the destruction of their physical assets was their biggest concern.

“As highly sophisticated, weaponized malware is being developed, a greater risk to distribution businesses arises from cyber criminals and others who would use it for malicious purposes,” said Stephanie Jamison, managing director, Accenture Transmission and Distribution. “Attacks on industrial control systems could disrupt grid reliability and the safety and well-being of employees and the public. Not getting it right could be a brand killer, as well as a real threat for a country and the community.”

Another 77 percent of utility executives indicated the growth of Internet of Things devices are a potential threat to cybersecurity.

North American respondents feel that governments, rather than cyber criminals, are the biggest risk to the grid.

Four in ten of the respondents claimed cybersecurity risks were not, or were only partially integrated, into their broader risk management processes.