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Simulated Attack on Power Grid Reveals Need for Improvement in Response

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NERC offers recommendations for improved response during a grid attack

A large-scale power grid security exercise conducted near the end of 2015 tested response to simulated attacks on the grid and revealed some areas in need of improvement.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a non-profit international regulatory authority that oversees the bulk power system in North America, conducted its third biennial grid security and emergency response exercise (GridEx III) last year on November 18 - 19. Recently, the NERC released analysis of GridEx III with detailed observations and calls for improvement.

Simulated power grid attacks

GridEx III simulated cyber and physical attacks that affected the reliable operation of the grid, and offered those in the industry and avenue to test their response to the hypothetical incidents. The two-day event involved 4,400 individuals from 364 organizations across North America, which, according to the NERC, was the largest physical and cyber grid security exercise to date.

Following GridEx III, the NERC offered observations and proposed recommendations to help the electricity industry enhance the security and reliability of the North American bulk power system (BPS).

The findings and observations included:

Reporting Mechanisms

The NERC suggested that industry members scrutinize reporting mechanisms to eliminate redundancies and reduce the amount of time needed to use them.

Information Sharing

The NERC suggested enhancing the Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC) portal to make it easier to highlight real-time, crucial information.

Social Media

According to the NERC, "managing the challenges and opportunities related to social media was of particular interest." How those in the industry receive and share information with each other and the NERC suggested enhancing the social media simulator in future exercise tools.

Matt Mills Matt Mills has been involved in various aspects of online media, both on the editorial side and on the technology side, for more than 16 years. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and is currently involved in multiple projects focused on innovation journalism.