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Are Increasing Cyber-Attacks Leaving You Vulnerable?

Are Increasing Cyber-Attacks Leaving You Vulnerable?

Cyber-attacks are not as uncommon as most people may think. The fact is that cyber-attacks happen daily, and large cyber-attacks are very real threats that deserve to have more attention focused on how to eliminate the threats, or at the very least how to decrease the impact.

Just this month there was a large cyberattack that forced the temporary shut down on a major pipeline in the United States. Cybersecurity experts say that many machines which control pipelines, refineries, and power plants are well past their prime, have few protections against sophisticated attacks, and could be manipulated to mess with the equipment or cause damage. The U.S. and industry officials have known for years about such problems surrounding the nation’s energy infrastructure.

The pipeline that had to be shut down is a major supplier for gas to the Northeast corridor of the United States. A shutdown that will last longer than 5 days can have a major impact on the east coast and could cause shortages.

Energy infrastructures are a primary target for cyber-attacks due to the major impact they can have. The Ukraine power grid had several cyber-attacks that have been connected to Russia hackers. The first was in 2015 which caused a six-hour blackout for hundreds of thousands of customers in and around Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev.

Over the past several decades, power plants and substations have been moving from manual to automatic controls and are increasingly being connected to public and private networks for remote access, leaving them exposed to attacks. As utilities turn to sources of renewable energy and add millions of other components like smart meters, they’re rapidly multiplying the number of connections and sensors along their networks, increasing the possibility of intrusions.

Attacks on electric grids take place because of several main factors: their destructive potential and the indispensability of power generation and delivery systems to any state, making intrusions into them a viable cyberwarfare tactic. An additional cause is the vulnerability of smart power grids that makes them easier to hack into.

Solar Winds Cyberattack

Solar Winds is a major US information technology firm. They were the subject of a 2020 cyberattack that spread to their clients and went undetected for months. The hackers secretly broke into Solar Wind’s systems and added malicious code into the company’s software system. Then several months later Solar Wind sent out an update to its customer which contained the hacked code. The code created a backdoor to customer’s information technology systems, which hackers then used to install even more malware that helped them spy on companies and organizations.

US agencies, including parts of the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Treasury were attacked. So were private companies, like Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, and Deloitte, and other organizations like the California Department of State Hospitals, and Kent State University, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Changes are coming

The recent attacks have sparked the conversation regarding changes in the cybersecurity industry. Companies are beginning to turn to a proactive method of assuming that there are already breaches, rather than merely reacting to attacks after they are found, The Associated Press stated that the US government may now reorganize its cybersecurity efforts by making the Cyber Command independent from National Security Agency.

100 Day Plan

As part of the Biden Administration’s effort to safeguard U.S. critical infrastructure from persistent and sophisticated threats, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched an initiative to enhance the cybersecurity of electric utilities’ industrial control systems (ICS) and secure the energy sector supply chain (energy.gov).

The initiative modernizes cybersecurity defenses and:

  • Encourages owners and operators to implement measures or technology that enhance their detection, mitigation, and forensic capabilities.
  • Includes concrete milestones over the next 100 days for owners and operators to identify and deploy technologies and systems that enable near real-time situational awareness and response capabilities in critical industrial control system (ICS) and operational technology (OT) networks; More details can be found here
  • In conclusion, there are many concerns regarding the risk of national security and the increasing threat of cyber-attacks. There will be changes and government initiatives to take place to find the weak points and develop plans to increase security.

What Can You Do?

If you are concerned about the risk to your home and your family, you may be looking at your options on separating your home from the main grid. Our solar panels along with a solar battery system are a viable option to increase your independence and decrease your need to rely solely on the grid. Call today to talk to one of our experts and come up with a customized plan for you.

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