Is Your Prime Power System Protected Against Cyber Threats?

Darkside’s attack on the Colonial Pipeline has again highlighted the critical importance of protecting your prime power systems against intrusion. While the threat is again in the news, the reality is that the risk is nothing new. It’s just the latest attack, and it’s a safe bet that it will happen again. The only question is whether your prime power systems have the protection they need to withstand an attack when it occurs. Remember: It’s always better to over-prepare than under prepare.

The Test That Proved the Risk

Things heated up quickly on a frosty Idaho morning in March 2007. At the Idaho National laboratory facilities outside of Idaho Falls, officials from the Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, and private industry watched as 30 lines of computer code turned a 27-ton prime power generator into scrap metal.

Spearheaded by Mike Assante, the test demonstrated how hackers could upload code into the generator that would cause it to destroy itself. The code was designed to target the protective relay operation and force the generator’s systems out of sync—the end goal being the complete and total destruction of the prime power system.

It worked.

Within seconds the generator suffered critical damage. In less than a minute, the prime generator belched black and grey smoke as pistons ground to a halt, and systems failed.

The Real World Where the Risks are Realized

In 2015, Russian hackers completed the first known cyberattack on a nation’s power grid during the conflict in Ukraine. Through spear-phishing emails that uploaded malware directly into the IT infrastructure, hackers were able to reduce supply by around 73 MWh. Granted, a small amount in the grand scheme of things showed that the plausible was possible and that hackers had the tools and expertise required to circumvent security systems and cause significant disruptions.

This latest attack on the nation’s fuel supply merely highlights the fact that the threat towards the nation’s energy supplies hasn’t gone away; it is evolving, and businesses need to prepare themselves accordingly.

Investing in CyberSecurity is Common Sense

It can be a costly mistake to believe your business isn’t big enough to be targeted. In the digital era, every business is a potential target. Whether it’s a competitor, a hacker eager to make a quick buck on a ransomware attack, or a state actor eager to protect the national interests, it is imperative to make sure your cybersecurity protocols are rock solid and up-to-date. Your prime power systems are valuable investments. The services you provide are invaluable to your clients. Protecting these isn’t paranoid; it’s proactive, and we strongly recommend our clients perform regular cybersecurity audits to ensure their systems are firmly protected against the threat of unauthorized intrusions.

For more about the steps you can take to protect your prime power systems from intrusion, contact the team at Gen-Tech Power Generation Specialists by calling (800) 625-8324.

Posted Under: prime power