Utilities bear heavy cost of securing infrastructure

April 4, 2011
Cyber Security, FedCyber Wire
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via Defense Systems

In February, the nation’s top intelligence officials from the Homeland Security Department, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, CIA, FBI and other agencies expressed their concerns about the threat of cyberattacks on our nation. One official said it would be hard to overstate the implications of such an event. At the same time, cybersecurity experts in the private sector warned that direct government takeover of private-sector networks — the critical infrastructure assets — could be a dangerous move during a cyber crisis.

This warning came as Army Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the Cyber Command, said it’s time to refine the roles of government and the private sector in securing the nation’s critical networks. Let’s also include the recently released report from the office of the Energy Department’s inspector general that illustrates the need for increased efforts to secure the nation’s power grid.

What do you get when you add all this up? That is easy: a case for action. When you combine all those, it equals a new push for federal legislation and actions that deal with securing and defending the nation’s power grid and other critical infrastructure assets. It is clear that this problem is getting a level of attention that it has not seen before.

So where do we stand? It is clear that we must build security into our critical infrastructure, and that includes our smart-energy and green-energy programs. However, on the condition of anonymity, one individual deeply involved in green energy said, “Developers generally do not look at security. We rely on the component and system manufacturers, and I cannot speak to what they are doing security-wise because we did not evaluate their efforts.” In a separate conversation I had with a former utility executive, also speaking on anonymity, he told me it is clear we are behind and must play catchup, but that is difficult in these economic and regulatory conditions.

More here.