The DOE's New Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, & Emergency Response
U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has announced the opening of a new cybersecurity office, to be called the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER). By creating an office specifically devoted to the preparation and response to physical and cyber threats on our grid, our energy infrastructure's vulnerabilities seem to be a priority of the Energy Department, whose mission it is to ensure America's security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.
While once everyone was concerned with the reliability of the grid if a natural disaster or physical attack were to occur, industry experts are now principally concerned with the threat of cyberattacks. "Wherever computer experts gather these days, in my experience, cybersecurity of the grid has come up… They're all worried about cyberattacks," one expert says. An attack on our power grid, such as the one in Ukraine in 2015, would cause more damage than widespread blackouts; it would trigger a cascade effect that would damage economic interests and destabilize critical city-state functions, as the Ukrainians can attest to. After all, cyber-attacks on the grid are not just cyber problems—it's a physical recipe for disaster since our day-to-day lives depend on the services that these networks provide.
The cyberattack on Ukraine was complex and sophisticated, using BlackEnergy malware and KillDisk malware, and took place amid the country's ongoing political unrest with Russia. Many fear that Russia's cyberattack on Ukraine was a "test run" for a future attack on the United States.
If our networks are compromised, how will we respond and restore order quickly in order to avoid pandemonium? How much can we rely on our own cyber resilience? Although the great existential threat is a cyber-attack, CESER will coordinate preparedness and response for both manmade and natural threats. How effective will the new CESER office be? Time will tell, and will most likely tell quickly, as 76% of utility executives in America believe that a cyber-attack is likely in the next few years.
Beyond what the DOE can do to safeguard and improve the protections to our energy supply, corporations must become more proactive by securing their systems with thorough and coordinated cyber threat intelligence. For more information on NC4's threat intelligence sharing platforms, contact NC4 today at 877-624-4999, or e-mail us anytime at info@NC4.com.
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