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NERC CIP change control

A nightmare scenario based on a devastating APT attack on the US energy grid has been provided by the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Risk Studies and Lloyds.

The study considers the likelihood and potential impact of an APT Trojan infiltration of generator control systems. The hypothetical Stuxnet-style attack assumes that up to 50 generators could be affected, being maliciously controlled and sent into a terminal overdrive, destroying themselves and taking out much of the North Eastern energy grid.

The ‘Business Blackout’ report authors are at pains to insist the scenario is ‘improbable’ while also going into great depth as to the possible attack vectors, malicious activity and the horrendous consequences that would ensue, causing losses up to $1 Trillion.

The report is neatly timed to coincide with the current rush to adopt NERC CIP 5 cyber security best practices.

Correctly implemented and operated, the range of measures mandated by NERC CIP 5 would mitigate the opportunities for such an attack to succeed in the first place. In fact, an alternative conclusion to the report could be that adopting the key NERC CIP requirements of hardening systems, tight change control and a focus on the elimination of vulnerabilities is as much a priority as indemnity insurance?

Read the Lloyds Business Blackout report

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