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.
Utility Security Consulting
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.
Due to recent news coverage of a major cyber penetration of U.S. government agencies and corporations across the globe, cybersecurity is front and center for city governments and their municipal utility departments. Before reaching out to consultants prepared to help evaluate cyber vulnerabilities and design a protection program, each community-owned utility should gather a baseline of information about their cybersecurity status. This outline will help the utility and potential consultants focus more quickly on the issues to be addressed.
You don’t need to be an expert in IT or have a huge consulting budget to champion your utility’s cybersecurity program. First and foremost, you must recognize that every city employee, utility employee, and governing official plays a key role in maintaining a cyber defense that protects business operations.
To meet public power’s need for cybersecurity solutions that are comprehensive and cost effective, Hometown Connections, Inc. has launched a Cybersecurity Management Program for public power electric, gas, water, and wastewater utilities and other city departments. Hometown Connections is helping community-owned organizations across the United States evaluate their cybersecurity requirements, develop plans for cyber risk management, and deploy effective cybersecurity defenses that include ongoing monitoring, training, remediation, and maintenance services.
Understand the cyber threat landscape, learn how to estimate the true financial costs of a cyber crime, and get tips on building your budget and risk management strategies. Register for this two-part webinar series to be held in June 2020 by the American Public Power Association Academy. Speakers include representatives from AESI-US, Inc. and Marsh Wortham Power Gen Insurance, marketing partners of Hometown Connections Inc.
Cyber criminals are trying to leverage the COVID-19 emergency by sending out “phishing” attacks that lure internet users to click on malicious links or files. Through emails with phony pledges for health information, hackers are gaining access to sensitive data. AESI-US, Inc. is deploying remote cybersecurity services to help community-owned utilities protect against these dangerous COVID-19 phishing attacks.