Cyber-Attacks Targeting Power, Gas Utilities on the Rise, According to Survey

Focusing on Business Continuity (BC) and disaster preparedness remains essential for both public and private entities. And ensuring that the critical infrastructure is in place in case of disaster should be at the top of a BC list of things to do. Neglecting these operating issues could put the best operation out of commission either permanently or for the long term.

A recent study conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), called “In the Dark: Crucial Industries Confront Cyberattacks,” reports that critical U.S. infrastructure, including power and gas utilities, remains especially susceptible to cyber-attack. The report also stated that organizations are unprepared to handle major incidents.

The electronic study surveyed 200 IT executives in charge of security at power, oil, gas and water utilities in 14 countries during the last quarter of 2010. A major finding in the study revealed that 80 percent of respondents said their organization had experienced large-scale denial-of-service threats.

Another startling figure emerged from the survey: Nearly 70 percent of frequently found malware is designed to sabotage their systems within their environment. And almost half of IT executives in the electric industry sector found Stuxnet on their systems.

The study examined the cost and impact of cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure, including power grids and oil, gas and water lines.

“[Critical infrastructure companies] all acknowledged being more worried, but they didn’t say they had done a lot more,” said Stewart Baker, a CSIS researcher who led the study, according to an article. “While all sectors reported doing more, the change was incremental. It’s an improvement, but it’s not much,” Baker said.

More than one-third of the survey-takers said that despite the increasing frequency and severity of the cyberattacks, they were not prepared. Another 40 percent expect a major attack on their infrastructure within the next 12 months.

For more information about the CSIS report and its implications, read the full article: