The cyber security threat to the energy industry is increasing year-on-year.
That’s according to Michael Johns, Director of the European Network for Cyber Security (ENCS), who told ELN malware such as the Crash Override attack on Ukrainian power grids in December 2016 would only become more frequent with time.
The attack, which was the first known use of malware to specifically target electric grid systems, was speculated in the media to be the work of Russian hackers.
Mr Johns suggested there will be “smarter, more advanced versions on the horizon” compared to the original attack, which was relatively basic despite its effectiveness.
He said: “I think the threat level in the energy industry is really increasing year-over-year and we have really seen this growing now in the last five years.
“Now this thing is really for real, now it’s happening, we have the first attack where actually cyber caused something physical, a power outage in the energy industry.”
He added although utilities are now working to protect networks, they are often stuck using outdated legacy protocols and equipment that can’t be made secure quickly or easily.
Mr Johns told ELN these firms are bolstering their defence levels by sharing technology and information but said they need to work out what extra costs this generates and to what extent they should be passed onto consumers.
He added attacks in the future are likely to target electric vehicles and smart technologies, which would be likely to directly affect the public.