Review Finds Connecticut Utilities Prevented Millions Of Cybersecurity Threats

Sep 18, 2018

Cybersecurity threats to Connecticut’s public utilities are growing in volume and becoming more sophisticated. That’s according to a new report released Tuesday.

Governor Dannel Malloy released the state’s annual study of utility cybersecurity. Experts report there were no known cyber breaches during the past year, despite millions of attempts.

Jim Hunt from Eversource - Connecticut’s largest electric utility, which also has gas and water customers, said they see threats on a daily basis.

“Just to put it in perspective, at Eversource we estimate that we get about one million knocks on the door from these threats every day,” Hunt said. “From an order of magnitude, that’s over 300 million a year. Magnify that by all the utilities across the nation. This threat is real.”

Arthur House, the state's Chief Cybersecurity Risk Officer, said efforts include modernizing the electric grid with a so called smart grid - technology that can monitor how effectively and efficiently the system is delivering power, and bring information back to the system operator in real time. They’re also training employees to manually take control in the event of an attack.

But, he said, what keeps him up at night is the potential for a prolonged power outage.

“And where would the breaking point be? It would be in water,” House said. “You can put an extra blanket on. You can probably find an extra can of soup, but without water you die. We have never experienced or thoroughly rehearsed a cybersecurity attack. Water has to be purified by electricity and sewage has to be treated.”

House said Connecticut has been a national leader in its cybersecurity efforts. He said individual states need to take the initiative since Congress has not passed legislation establishing a clear policy for guidance.