On September 9, 2021, Hometown Connections, Inc. (HCI) published a Request for Quote (RFQ) REF#: HCI_MDR_VMS_RFQ_0827. HCI is soliciting quotes from qualified vendors offering Managed Detection and Response Solutions (MDR) & Vulnerability Management Systems (VMS) that meet the identified cybersecurity requirements of community-owned utilities. HCI seeks to partner with the selected vendor(s) to provide these solutions / systems.
Federal and many state regulations require electric, water, wastewater, and gas utilities to establish an identity theft prevention program. Utilities must have policies and procedures in place to detect, prevent, and mitigate the theft of personal customer information. What does this mean for your community-owned utility? You must evaluate and address all of the ways people can open and access your customer accounts which contain personally identifiable information (PII). Failure to comply with these regulations puts your utility at risk of hefty financial penalties and potential civil lawsuits.
The threat of ransomware attacks on the public utility sector is steadily increasing. Historically, these attacks have targeted credit cards and social security numbers sent over email. Lately, attackers are getting more innovative and are stealing from more sources as technology continues to advance.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant implementation of social distancing directives, altered business processes, and new economic realities, community-owned utilities must review and address their technology infrastructure and cybersecurity measures.
Cyber-attacks remain a top business risk for all utilities and municipalities, increasing in frequency, severity, and sophistication. At the top of the cyber-attack list? Ransomware. The recent attack on the Colonial Pipeline is focusing heavy attention on the threat of ransomware on U.S. energy infrastructure. The bottom line: planning is everything. Learn the three best practices for preparing for a ransomware attack and how to create a detailed incident response plan that prevents paralysis should the worst happen.
Front page headlines, consumer panic, political fallout, and a $5 million ransom paid. The attack on the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S. is focusing attention on the vulnerability of our energy infrastructure like never before. With people lining up at gas stations when facing only a few days of a shortage, imagine the reaction to the local electric grid being down for who knows how long. It’s beyond time for all municipalities and their utility departments to build out their cyber defenses.
For years the security community has viewed internal resources as presenting the greatest cyber risk to an entity. In 2021, shortly on the heels of the much-publicized SolarWinds breach, as well as many other supply chain/third party cyber breaches, it can be argued that supply chain/third parties now represent a greater cyber risk than insiders. This poses an extremely difficult problem to address given the number of third parties providing technology services to critical infrastructure entities and the nature of the services provided by the third parties. AESI-US, Inc., a Hometown Connections cybersecurity partner, provides context and a 5-step process to address these risks.
To provide customers with several payment options, the Utilities Department of the Village of Jackson Center in Ohio accepts bank account direct and credit card payments. To ensure the security of customer information and thwart cyber intrusions overall, Jackson Center took advantage of cybersecurity services offered by its electric service wholesale supplier, American Municipal Power, Inc. (AMP). With the help of an assessment conducted by AMP personnel, Jackson Center has developed a culture of cyber vigilance and addresses vulnerabilities through an effective step-by-step process that is manageable for a small staff.
Utilities in the United States are prime targets for cyber attack. Criminals are hijacking utility information systems and demanding ransom for their release. Nation states and other bad actors are rehearsing ways to interrupt utility services and throw the nation into chaos. Community-owned utilities of all sizes and structures must shore up their cyber defenses. This article presents the top 10 cybersecurity considerations for community utilities and their city departments.
The City of Piqua, Ohio, is dedicated to providing the highest level of service to its nearly 11,000 electric customers, applying regularly for the designation of Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) by the American Public Power Association. Being recognized by the RP3 program demonstrates a utility’s commitment to excellence in reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement. To ensure best practice compliance within the cybersecurity portion of the RP3 application submitted in September 2020, the Piqua Power System hired the team from Hometown Connections, Inc., to perform a cybersecurity assessment.