By Pascal Ackerman, senior consultant of Industrial Cyber Security, Rockwell Automation
An unprecedented cyberattack hit the U.S. power grid on March 5 of this year.
There was little news coverage. There was no blackout, and it's not clear if it was a targeted attack. But hackers did use firewall vulnerabilities to cause periodic "blind spots" for about 10 hours for grid operators in the western United States. It's the first known time a cyberattack has caused that kind of disruption at a U.S. power grid company.
The incident was first referenced in a U.S. Department of Energy report in April, but only in vague terms. A North American Electric Reliability Corp. document described it in more detail. Considering the extent to which Russia and others continue to probe the power grid, it's an unsettling reminder that weaknesses are out there.
Greater connectivity and information sharing — enabled by technologies such as smart devices, inspired by concepts like the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and brought to life in The Connected Enterprise — are transforming companies and their operations significantly. They’re converging IT and operations technology (OT) systems and using new technologies such as mobile, analytics, cloud and virtualization to do more than ever before.