Cyberattacks Still on the Rise

In last month’s “From the Editor,” I wrote that utilities and all of corporate America should be concerned about cyberattacks, especially after the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment. At the risk of sounding like Henny Penny, I’m going to write about cyberattacks again this month. One reason is because in recent weeks I’ve experienced firsthand how a distributed Denial-of-Service attack (DDoS) can affect even the most basic computer functions. I am not at liberty to elaborate on the DDoS I experienced, but I can say that it gave me a new appreciation of how difficult it can be on IT personnel and how disruptive an attack can be to an organization’s daily work flow. In some areas, that work flow isn’t just inhibited; it ceases.

Another reason I’m writing about cyberattacks again is because this issue contains three articles relating to protecting data and combatting cyberattacks. In the cover feature, “The Growing Threat of Denial-of-Service Attacks” beginning on Page 18, author Sahba Kazerooni writes that DDoS attacks are one of utilities’ top new cyber-related risks. Kazerooni writes that according to Verizon’s “2014 Data Breach Investigation Report,” 14 percent of all cyberattacks on utilities came from DDoS attacks in 2013. In addition, he writes about the evolution of DDoS attacks and offers six strategies that utilities should use to deal with such attacks. One of the most important is to create a network of “go-to” experts to help when your utility falls victim to such an attack.

In the article “A Digital Imperative: Protecting Your Customer Data,” PwC’s Alan Conkle, Matt Wilson and Dave Sands share information from PwC’s 2015 “Global State of Information Security Survey.” One of the many findings from the survey reveals that reported cybersecurity breaches are up 25 percent in the past 12 months. In addition, the survey results show that power and utilities respondents reported the average number of detected cybersecurity incidents increased six-fold over the prior year. The survey results emphasize even more than before the need for effective and continuously evolving cyber strategies.

And, finally, on Page 22, Gedi Jomantas of Motorola writes about utility infrastructure security. Jomantas explains how the evolution from isolated systems to integrated networks has resulted in many new attack opportunities, including DDoS, viruses, trojans, phishing and more. Like the previous authors, Jomantas also emphasizes the importance of a holistic strategy to defend against cyberattacks.

Of course, this issue contains other feature articles that cover timely and important topics, so I encourage you to read all of them.

Having recently been affected by a DDoS attack, however, I felt compelled to emphasize once again the importance of understanding and combatting cyberattacks. I hope the features in this issue help you plan your cyber strategy.

TERESA HANSEN   Editor in chief
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