State Tries to Get Better Understanding of Utilities and Cyber Security Vulnerabilities

Apr 7, 2016

The threat of cyber attacks -- and the risks posed to water, natural gas, and electric supplies -- are very real. That's according to the head of the agency that regulates public utilities in Connecticut. 

Art House wouldn't say whether there have been targeted cyberattacks on utilities in Connecticut, but "let me answer it this way," he said. "There have been targeted utility cyber attacks on almost all the major utilities in the United States."

"I think it's safe to say those who wish our country bad, or evil, are certainly trying all the time to get into our utilities," said House, chairman of the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, or PURA. "The utilities are fighting back, and they're doing a good job. We, in the government side of things, need to know how that battle is going."

PURA announced this week it will arrange separate, annual meetings with four local utilities -- Eversource, Avangrid (which used to be United Illuminating), Aquarion, and Connecticut Water.

Some major telecom companies and water providers like MDC, aren't involved, but House said it's still "a good starting point."

"We'll go in, and we'd like to talk very candidly. How's it working? What do you need to spend more time on? Any reporting we will do will be very general," House said. "The Governor and the Legislature have both expressed interest in knowing what the outcome of these meetings are. We will do so in a way that does not identify any weakness or any source of trouble, but we will give them a sense of where the strengths are and how it's all working."

House said the meetings will begin later this year.