Industry Needs To Step Up To Protect The Power Grid From Cyber Attack

Aliya Sternstein | Nextgov | February 28, 2014

Energy companies should create a new industry-led body to deflect cyber threats to the electric grid -- from large generators to local distribution utilities, according to a new report co-authored by Ret. Gen. Michael Hayden, former CIA and National Security Agency director.

Such an organization would include power companies across North America and be patterned after the nuclear industry’s Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, an entity established following the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. The paper, which was released on Friday by the nonprofit Bipartisan Policy Center, evaluates approaches to protecting the continent's electric grid from cyber attacks.

"We believe such an organization could substantially advance cybersecurity risk-management practices across the industry," the authors write.

The idea of a new governing body arrives at a time when critical infrastructure operators, including healthcare systems and banks, are increasingly concerned about the vulnerability of networks that would upend daily living if disrupted.