‘First utility cyber attack will happen this year’

The first reported instance of a cyber attack on a utilities provider will happen this year. That’s according to Perry Stoneman, Global Head of Utilities at consulting firm Capgemini, who […]

By Jonny Bairstow

The first reported instance of a cyber attack on a utilities provider will happen this year.

That’s according to Perry Stoneman, Global Head of Utilities at consulting firm Capgemini, who told ELN it would likely take the form of a ransomware attack.

This is when computer systems are hacked by criminals who then demand a sum of money to avoid a major city having its power cut off.

Mr Stoneman believes the hackers would want their attack to be “visible, attention-catching and newsworthy” – turning the lights out is just that.

He said: “It could be something more malicious than just wanting money. It could target critical information. We’re predicting a real threat against the grid.”

Mr Stoneman told ELN although the risks do increase as energy systems become more dependent on technology, the main reason the threat is growing is because there are larger numbers of hackers with more advanced skills than ever before.

He said utilities have been hardening their cyber security for years and have very comprehensive programmes in place to guard against “energy terrorism”.

He added: “The industry is taking it seriously because the threat is serious and real.”

According to cyber security company Dragos, Chinese involvement in the development of Hinkley Point C could leave the UK open to cyber attacks and blackouts.