UK Energy Grid at Risk from Internet Data
By Anne Lewis-Schneider
Cyber-attacks are not new to businesses in this age where everything is easily accessible, if not readily available on the Internet. A report has been released that states that the UK’s energy as well as other utility grids are vulnerable to attacks via cyber-space. According to Control Systems Security Consulting with Atkins who are design and security systems specialists, the head of control, Dr Richard Piggin says that the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) is vulnerable to attack using information that is readily available to all and sundry on the Internet.
The report highlighted just how low the level of technology is that is needed to breach security and put attacks into motion. It also brought to the fore that third party access to information is something that is far too easy to gain and needs to be changed. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) is a system that has been used to monitor and also control processes that are found on major systems, broadly used for power stations, the energy grids and other infrastructures that are vital to the UK. Tim Keanini of Lancope says that as the availability of connections become available so it will become more difficult to protect the integrity of the infrastructure and he has emphasised that a detection and prevention balance needs to be implemented. He has warned that whilst the CNI may be the ultimate target there are many other networks that could be in danger from attacks. He advocates that networks be aware of threats and take care to prevent attacks from taking place.
Tripwire is another vendor of security in cyber-space, and they have said that SCADA will always be open to attacks from those who know where to look for loopholes and vulnerabilities. They say that it is important for companies to keep on top of security threats and share information to improve security. They say that risk assessments are vital and priorities need to be set for vulnerable systems so that the threat of attack can be minimised and service delivery will thus be allowed to continue unhampered with the curbing of information that is generally available on the internet. This could be done by compartmentalising network information and reducing the number of accounts that have free access to data that is critical to the smooth running of infrastructures that are essential to the running of essential services.
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