Energy sector ‘attractive target for hackers’

Energy companies have seen a massive increase in the number of cyber-attacks in the past year. It is among the top concerns for energy leaders, especially in countries with high […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

Energy companies have seen a massive increase in the number of cyber-attacks in the past year.

It is among the top concerns for energy leaders, especially in countries with high infrastructure maturity, mainly in North America and Europe, a report by the World Energy Council (WEC) states.

It adds that’s due to the increase of interconnection and digitisation, with the emergence of smart grids and services which make the sector a highly attractive target for hackers.

In a worst case scenario, these attacks can result in infrastructure shut down, triggering economic and financial disruptions or even loss of life and massive environmental damage.

The WEC is calling for an urgent solution to tackle cyber risks in the energy sector as it is critical not only to energy security but also vital for a resilient state and economy.

It suggests utilities to view cyber as core business risk, increase awareness and build strong technical and human cyber resilience strategies. It also recommends policymakers to stimulate the introduction of standards, regulation and support information sharing to develop strong responses to these issues.

Christoph Frei, Secretary General at WEC said: “Cyber threats are among top issues keeping energy leaders awake at night in Europe and North America. Over the past three years, we have seen a rapid change from zero awareness to headline presence. As a result, more than 30 countries have put in place ambitious cyber plans and strategies, considering cyber threats as a persistent risk to their economy.

“What makes cyber threats so dangerous is that they can go unnoticed until the real damage is clear, from stolen data over power outages to destruction of physical assets and great financial loss. Over the coming years we expect cyber risks to increase further and change the way we think about integrated infrastructure and supply chain management.”

Earlier this month, WEC said in a report energy systems should be smarter, not just stronger.