The thinking and the mindset of people today is that Cyber attacks are geared primarily towards computers, servers, workstations, databases, wireless devices, Smartphones, etc. While this is mostly true, the Cyber attacker is also moving far beyond the realms of just stealing passwords and credit card numbers. Now, it appears, they are also interested in causing widespread mayhem and even possible total destruction of a city’s infrastructure.
It is with this in mind that the US Department of Energy has decided, at least publicly, come out in general terms what its plans are for Cyber security, and what they will do to help protect the American Energy Infrastructure. The exact details of it can be seen in the link below, and just the highlights of it will be covered in this blog:
Also, another reason why the Department of Energy is being more aggressive in this regard is that it appears that the Cyber attacker is starting to ramp their interests in attacking our power supply grid and other forms of energy.
They have come up with a three pronged plan, which is detailed as follows:
- Strengthening cybersecurity preparedness, which includes:
*Enhancing information sharing and situational awareness capabilities;
*Strengthening risk management capabilities;
*Reducing supply chain vulnerabilities;
*Developing and improving information sharing tools
*The development of a virtual crowdsourced malware forensic analysis platform.
2) Incident response and recovery, which includes the following:
*Establish a coordinated national incident response capability;
*Conduct training for emergency responders;
*Improve the incident reporting process;
3) The development and demonstration (RD&D) for resilient energy delivery systems (EDS, which includes the following:
*Having the right tools for detecting, preventing and mitigating cyber incidents;
*The development of systems and components that are cybersecurity aware;
*The capability of automatically handling cyberattacks.
Part of these efforts will also involve updating the “Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model”, also known as the “C2M2”. Part of this would be also the implementation of Biometric Technology (YAY!!!), but the Department of Energy did not specify which modalities they are considering of deploying and implementing.
Although the above mentioned strategies are certainly plausible in the long term, officials at the Department of Energy fully admit that there will be obstacles down the road when coming up with the exact solutions that will support these initiatives. One of the main reasons for this is the legacy system that is in place, which will obviously take a lot of planning beforehand if they are planning to rip it out and implement new security technologies into them like Biometrics.
In the end, this whole process will cost at the very minimum $96 million: “The administration’s funding request for $96 million is hopefully just a down payment, because protecting our infrastructure adequately will cost billions.” (SOURCE: https://www.securityweek.com/us-energy-department-unveils-multiyear-cybersecurity-plan).
Honestly, while I do applaud these efforts that are at least being talked about, it doesn’t surprise me that it has taken the Department of Energy so long to address this very critical issue. The thoughts of terrorists (not Cyber attackers per se) attacking the American energy grid happened all the way back when the 9/11 occurred.
If I remember correctly, the FBI and other intelligence agencies did receive credible threats that something would happen. But fortunately for us, nothing yet has happened, at least not yet. Just imagine the worst case scenario: All the power goes down in a major city as the well as all of the IT infrastructure. Just think about not just the financial damage and personal tolls it will take on society, but just sheer confusion and feelings of paralysis that would occur.
It would not take just a couple of days to recover, but just a few weeks at minimum, or even months. And while this is going on in one city, the Cyber attackers will launching their next energy takedown in yet another large city. I don’t want to be the doom and gloom person here, but we have to deal with the realities of the situation. It is just horrible, and hopefully, it will never happen.