To Protect the Grid from Climate Physical Risks, Look to Cybersecurity’s Lessons
- May 26, 2021 5:54 am GMT
This item is part of the Grid Modernization - May 2021 SPECIAL ISSUE, click here for more
Devastating events such as the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the Great Northeast Blackout of 2003 led the US government to an increased focus on cybersecurity and the development of the mandatory cybersecurity requirements for the bulk power system known as the NERC Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards. Immediately following the attack on the World Trade Center, the US government asked experts to explore other out-of-the-box means by which the country could be dealt a catastrophic blow by distant and relatively small groups of attackers. Several scenarios emerged, one of which was a coordinated cyberattack on the US electric grid. Forensics experts have determined that the massive Northeast 2003 blackout was initiated by a falling tree branch. However, grid managers’ responses were slowed by the presence of malware on their computers, prompting even greater concern at the Federal level. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 then set the wheels in motion for what would later become the mandatory reliability and CIP standards, both of which were developed in collaboration with industry, and enforced by grid reliability overseer, NERC. From the initial attack to a codified and enforceable mitigation strategy took nearly a decade.
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