Electric Utilities on Guard Against Cyberattacks
While alleged foreign meddling in the last presidential election and affairs of state continue to grab headlines nationally, one foreign threat is well documented: attempts to hack into our nation’s electrical grid to control systems and cause blackouts.
A front-page story in the Aug. 6 edition of The Wall Street Journal reported extensively on the challenge this problem poses. The article delved into how keenly organizations from federal government on down to the individual utility are dealing with this threat.
The story used terms such as “state-sponsored hackers” and characterized the “worsening threats to the country’s electrical system and other critical industries.” A lot of household-name agencies are in the fight such as the FBI, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of Treasury.
Here’s one you’ve probably never heard of: the National Infrastructure Advisory Council. According to the story, it’s comprised of “mostly current or former chief executives of companies engaged in critical industries.”
Another organization that has been around for many decades, the North American Electric Reliability Corp., also has this issue front and center. Here at Santee Cooper, so do we. This challenge to our statewide system and essential services is approached as a serious matter each and every day.
We depend on electricity, and doing without would create a pervasive societal problem in short order. Just look at the difficulties caused by hurricanes or ice storms, and those are examples we can predict and anticipate.
Santee Cooper is proud of our electrical reliability record. Last year on our distribution side it was 99.9964 percent. On the transmission end it was 99.9979 percent. There are many threats to this exemplary record: the weather, trees, vehicles crashing into poles and even the humble squirrel.
While the traditional threats from Mother Nature and motorists have always been a threat on an electric utility’s landscape, this new digital challenge is being taken just as seriously.