Cybersecurity: Challenges in Securing the Modernized Electricity Grid, Statement of Gregory C. Wilshusen, Director Information Security Issues; David C. Trimble, Director Natural Resources and Environment, Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives   [open pdf - 352KB]

"The electric power industry is increasingly incorporating information technology (IT) systems and networks into its existing infrastructure as part of nationwide efforts--commonly referred to as the 'smart grid'--aimed at improving reliability and efficiency and facilitating the use of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. Smart grid technologies include metering infrastructure ('smart meters') that enable two-way communication between customers and electricity utilities, smart components that provide system operators with detailed data on the conditions of transmission and distribution systems, and advanced methods for controlling equipment. The use of these systems can bring a number of benefits, such as fewer and shorter outages, lower electricity rates, and an improved ability to respond to attacks on the electric grid. However, this increased reliance on IT systems and networks also exposes the grid to cybersecurity vulnerabilities, which can be exploited by attackers. Moreover, for nearly a decade, GAO [Government Accountability Office] has identified the protection of systems supporting our nation's critical infrastructure--which include the electric grid--as a governmentwide high-risk area. GAO is providing a statement describing (1) cyber threats facing cyber-reliant critical infrastructures and (2) key challenges to securing smart grid systems and networks. In preparing this statement, GAO relied on its previously published work in this area."

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