Power Grids Facing Risks Of Cyber Attacks

power grids cyber attacks
One of the most common things in a sci-fi movie, to date, has been the depiction of uncontrolled power outrages that can spread through a nation in no time. Nonetheless, today, the thin line between that fiction and this reality has been blurred and what earlier only seemed to be a concoction has recently been turned into a frightening reality.

Citizens, who are part of the countries with eruptive dominion, stand a chance to be the worst victims of this phenomenon. The probability of civil unrest due to the political upheavals that have been making headlines recently is not distant in a country like Venezuela.

The most shocking incident that took place in Venezuela was when the entire nation and its people went through a blackout for almost a week long’s time that occurred as a result of the episode that took place on its adjacent land. Among the numerous reasons attached to this suffering, what has turned out to be pivotal is the overburdening and failure of the principal power lines that have produced several cyber-attacks as its consequence. Learning this fact, we cannot help but voice out a few questions that are raised in our minds. In the following section, we will strive to analyze and reason out the causes of these colossal losses.

Reasons behind attacking power grids

One thing that in today’s world is growing with ferocious velocity is technology and its bearers, whose reverberation is a powerful intercommunication between the electronics that rule our daily lives. What seemed to be a mere dream 10 years ago, has not only established itself as the actuality but is constantly influencing our daily chores.

It is no brainer that the world today without internet can be leveled to a man devoid his car; the world that has so far been running will begin to crawl at the speed of a turtle. Over the years we have converted the luxury of the internet to a necessity and cramped the entire macrocosm on our mobile screens. We have become so dependent on this service that today, the power-generating plants and utility companies depend on cyberspace for their functioning. Firms operating and managing through the internet, therefore, should remain extra cautious when it comes to their security, so that the confidential information that is indispensable in the making or breaking of the company, should be saved from its vulnerability to threat-imposing information mongers.

Demolishing one’s empire by directly attacking on land, sea or in the air is now a thing of the past. The trend that has seeped into our civilization is cyber warfare, whose primary weapon is wide-scale power outrage. Assailants have taken this course because of its capability of taking down a considerable scale of masses in a single shot. The areas that can be affected the most by these attacks are transportation and water supply and treatments. Once these basic needs of man are terminated, the ends of the attackers are successfully met.

Popular ways of launching cyber attacks

Unlike the other fields targeted for cyber-attacks, the ones which are directed towards the power-grids do not require investing great skilled hacking or web operation; a systematic and disciplined step-by-step approach is enough to break into their systems.

If we look back into the history of such cyber-attacks, one accident that remains glaring is how the whole city lost all its power for an hour as a repercussion of a systematic attack on Ukraine’s power grid. When the matter was further investigated, the malware named as “Industroyer”, was behind the massacre. The aim was reached by capitalizing on the vulnerability known as CVE-2015-537.

A similar attack that grabbed the spotlight was at Saudi Arabia that led to the blocking of a paramount oil company back in 2012. Everything took place around an e-mail that was opened by a secretary of the company without detecting whether it was already infected with the virus. In a matter of seconds, the virus infected the computer, cloning all its information in favor of the attackers.
A stark difference between these two incidents is that the former occurred as a result of mechanical steps taking advantage of hardware jeopardy, while the latter was nothing more than common human error.

Raising cybersecurity awareness

Even after several attempts of protecting ourselves from cyber threats, important information is lost in the web-space daily. The few measures that can curb this to some extent are using antivirus applications, unusual and distinct passwords and prevention of web tracking. Above all, the entity using the web service should be well aware of the security initiative and its usage to ensure an error-free functioning within their networks.
New systems have been introduced recently that not only depend on educating its user but once turned on, protects all the data sent and received. The VPN application is the most common that is easily available even in the tiniest space of our homes. Apart from these external measures, when it comes to online security, the individual’s or company’s awareness regarding its usage stands peerless.

What lies in the near future?

In the recent past, we have shifted our reliance considerably to renewable power sources such as solar panels, fossil fuels, batteries, coal that helps to store a greater mass of power. These methods are not only restricted to massive energy plants but have also made their way into private homes. But the cyber threats attached to these methods are critical. With an increased number of individuals taking part in power production along with power plants have led to the swelling of the responsibility of wisely maintaining the digital networks that are connected and dependent upon one another. Coming to security, this will automatically run into the creation of more cyber security firms.

In the present day, the USA stands as the leader of cyber security providers with over 850 cyber-security firms already established in the greater part of Washington DC. There are different studies that provide different pictures of this production. It predicts that mass users of the corporate network will soon shift to individual users, along with the forthcoming of a global shortage of 1.8 million cyber security professionals by the year 2022.

Conclusion

We cannot deny the statement that today, all of us re equally part of the globalized village that we have created for ourselves. With every single aspect of life being internet-borne, our surrounding environment and inevitable needs will be sincerely attended by digitalization.

Coming to the bottom line of cyber security, it is the fact that an individual’s role in data protection is primary and therefore cannot be overlooked. However much the government and private firms try to introduce and establish cyber-security methods, it boils down to the individual’s awareness and education regarding its wise application. One, while browsing through the internet, should ensure that every detailed looked up and traced should not reach anyone else none of the suspicious data sources should be opened or granted permission without a proper understanding of its role and functions.


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