Sophisticated hackers could breach the U.S. power grid to steal intellectual property.

Threats to the electrical utility industry are on the rise, including the ongoing and major threat of sophisticated hackers. These malign actors have the capability to attack and manipulate business-critical operational technology (OT), with the objective of stealing intellectual property such as personal data, company credentials, and financial information. Nefarious hackers can then deploy ransomware on the utility company’s network in hopes of receiving money to stop the attack.

Although a widespread blackout to the U.S. power grid is unlikely, there is a growing threat to the utility sector’s operational technology. OT systems control valves and engines and regulate temperature and pressure in utility equipment, and these technologies are increasingly being controlled by IoT, creating higher vulnerability to cyberattacks.

“I don’t think the threat to reliability is imminent,” says Lila Kee, who is the general manager of operations at GlobalSign, a security consulting company for the North American Energy Standards Board. “Attackers are getting smarter and as we move OT online the threat surface will be wider, but what these hackers are doing is espionage. They’re going after data, they’re going after [intellectual property].”

From cybersecurity attacks to physical security threats, electrical utilities need to pursue innovative approaches to predicting, detecting, identifying, and responding to vulnerabilities.

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Convergint is a global systems integrator offering scalable, customizable utilities solutions with unparalleled service delivery. Convergint provides high-security protective strategies, methodical program implementation, and develops comprehensive solutions focused on driving operational efficiencies throughout the industrial utility market. With a deep understanding of regulatory compliance requirements, Convergint deploys a layered design to ensure maximum performance and functionality.

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