At GridSecCon last week, FBI cyber division chief John Riggi announced that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”) attempted to hack American power companies, but failed. Riggi acknowledges the growing concern of serious cyber-attacks against U.S. infrastructure. The Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team, part of the Department of Homeland Security, reported that the energy sector led all others again in 2014 with the most reported incidents.
The size and complexity of the U.S. power grid make it vulnerable only to sophisticated cyber-attacks. It would take advanced equipment and an advanced technical team to perform a successful hack. According to the FBI, terrorists currently are not using sophisticated hacking tools. Therefore, the threat of a major attack on the U.S. power grid is low. The real concern is whether terrorists will obtain the needed tools through the black market. With this growing concern, cybersecurity will be a significant issue and a top priority in the energy sector while undergoing efforts to modernize the electric system.