A novel approach to grid cybersecurity awareness


By: SGN Staff


By Andy Bochman


Not long ago I was in a meeting with the CIO of a large electric utility and when I inquired as to the cybersecurity awareness of the board of directors, was told it had recently skyrocketed.

Why the sudden shift I asked? Had the company just endured a serious and/or highly public breach? Nope, things had been mercifully static on that front. A classified threat briefing by DHS? No, not that either. Well, what was it then?

Apparently one board member had read the latest Tom Clancy book, Threat Vector, and once exposed to Clancy's fictional vision of how the U.S. could be brought low through largely cyber means, it changed his thinking. Spoke in language he could understand, and captured his imagination too. It soon spread to the rest of the board.

Now comes former Senator Byron Dorgan with a cautionary novel of his own, and this one is much more grid-centric, from the title on. I later read Threat Vector myself ... 900 pages or so if I remember right, looking for power sector specific attacks and breaches and they were few. I've read some of the reviews of Gridlock, though, and in it the U.S. grid is front and center and not doing so well.

Dorgan and co-author David Hagberg don't have anywhere near Clancy's readership, not close. But if an executive in your company were to happen upon a copy, well, apparently it's quite a page turner, and you might have a new, more cybersecurity-aware board to work within a few weeks.


Andy Bochman is Principal at Bochman Advisors LLC which focuses on increasing cybersecurity awareness in utilities and the federal and state organizations that regulate them. A contributor to industry and national security working groups on energy security and cybersecurity, Andy lives in Boston, is an active member of the MIT Energy Club, and is the founder of the Smart Grid Security and DOD Energy Blogs.

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