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SIA issues response to North Carolina substation attacks

SIA issues response to North Carolina substation attacks

SIA issues response to substation attacks

SILVER SPRING, Md. – Following attacks on a pair of substations in Moore County, N.C., that left thousands without power, Security Industry Association (SIA) Utilities Advisory Board Chair Joey St. Jacques has issued a statement.

In a LinkedIn post, St. Jacques wrote that, “The Dec. 3 incident in which gunfire damaged substations and cut off power to tens of thousands of North Carolina residents is a reminder that threats to critical energy infrastructure are a constant concern. The risk of cyber and physical attacks, including ones similar to what occurred this weekend, can be mitigated and vulnerabilities can be reduced by having appropriate training, programs and policies in place, and by adhering to NERC [North American Electric Reliability Corporation] standards. Drones, insider threats, copper theft, sabotage, and even terrorism are just a few components of the threat environment that utilities security practitioners must address 24/7.”

Attackers were able to access the facilities and damage the substations with gunfire, leading to the loss of power to roughly 40,000 people. Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields indicated that the attacks had been perpetrated by a person or persons who knew what they were doing and suspected an inside job.

 “For these practitioners, it is vital to deploy resources that enable real-time detection and response and to utilize tabletop exercises, penetration testing and audits to manage risk exposure.,” St. Jacques continued. “The use of technology plays a critical role, from the outer perimeter to the most sensitive inner workings – as well as at sites that are separate from the main facility and, thus, have additional vulnerabilities, such as substations.”

A study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that of the 55,000 transmission substations in the United States, it would only take disabling 10 to bring down power for the entire country.

“The SIA Utilities Advisory Board is committed to enhancing infrastructure protection by developing recommendations and best practices and by providing educational programs to industry professionals and utilities security practitioners," he concluded.

Power went down at 7:00 p.m. on Dec. 3. Duke Energy, the party responsible for the substations said that equipment had all been replaced by the following Wednesday. Following testing of equipment power was expected to be restored to customers in waves to prevent the system from overloading.


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