This special interest group covers mobile technologies and approaches that are helping utilities do business today. 


Hacking of remote utility employees shows challenges of a mobile workforce

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

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A mobile, remote workforce, was where the labor market was headed before the pandemic, but the massive, forced experiment of teleworking brought on by the spread of the virus has laid bare the vulnerabilities of the remote and mobile work method. Nowhere has this been more true than the utility sector. 

Utility workers, just like many in the labor force, have been sent home en masse to work from their couches and home offices, where the possibility and vulnerability of being hacked increases significantly unless your home office is decked out with the same high-end security technology that corporate offices have. A recent article from Bloomberg reported that utilities were facing increasing attacks since the pandemic began. Teleworking contributes to this. 

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“With people working from home, there’s an increased attack surface to go after,” Scott Aaronson, vice president of security and preparedness at the Edison Electric Institute, told Bloomberg reporters. 

Concerns over grid security have grown in recent years as grid operations have become increasingly digital. Cybersecurity as it relates to the grid is an issue being tackled throughout the industry and up the ranks of government officials. 

While it could be hard to imagine slowing the grid's digitization, I think it's reasonable for utility and grid operators to go the opposite direction of teleworking trends as a means of shrinking the targets on their backs. 

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