Industry Thought Leaders Discuss State of Energy Security
SANTA CLARA, Calif., 18 July 2012 - McAfee today announced a report detailing the thoughts of industry leaders on the state of energy security. The report, Getting Smarter About Smart Grid Cyberthreats, looks at how legacy smart grids are vulnerable to attack and how security needs to be built into these critical systems.
The electrical power grid is the backbone on which everything else depends on. A cybercriminal could debilitate a major city by a single targeted attack on the energy grid and compromise anything from the lights and appliances in homes, to heart monitors in hospitals, to air defense systems. The most prevalent cyberthreat reported by the global energy sector is extortion. Criminals gain access to a utility’s system, demonstrate that they are capable of doing damage, and demand a ransom. Additional threats include espionage and sabotage all with the goal of financial gain, data theft and shutting down facilities.
How did we wind up with a system of energy production and distribution so vulnerable to attack? The answer lies in well-intentioned efforts to modernize energy distribution and make it safer, cleaner, more efficient, less costly, and open to more alternative forms of production. What makes the smart grid vulnerable?
“Security needs to be built into grid components at the planning and design phase,” said Tom Moore, vice president of Embedded Security at McAfee. “Because the grid relies heavily on embedded systems it makes them ripe targets for intruders thus it is imperative to integrate security solutions natively in these devices. McAfee is working with its partners in industry and government to make great strides on the technical front to mitigate the threats to these critical systems we all rely on.”
A wide range of technologies exists for achieving the goal of securing these embedded systems and the energy grid - from antivirus and anti-malware protection to firewalls, advanced encryption, and application blacklisting and whitelisting. Solutions such as McAfee Embedded Control prevent unauthorized changes to devices to make them resilient to malware infections and attacks. To mitigate vulnerabilities and prevent attacks, McAfee addresses endpoint, network, and data security within the grid as part of a cohesive security solution.
The report which features interviews from such firms as Atlantic Council, Invensys, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory can be downloaded at: http://www.mcafee.com/us/resources/reports/rp-smarter-protection-smart-grid.pdf.
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