recommended reading

DOE Discloses Power Grid Threats

ARCHIVES

By Allan Holmes August 3, 2010

recent posts

The following post was written by Nextgov reporter Aliya Sternstein.

In the interest of serving the greater public good, the Energy Department recently disclosed an analysis of the cybersecurity vulnerabilities of private and government electric power grids. Typically cyber weaknesses at private utilities -- and even in specific government energy programs -- are kept close to the vest.

But as the May report states, "although information found in individual stakeholder [system] vulnerability assessment reports is protected from disclosure, the security of the nation's energy infrastructure as a whole can be improved by sharing information on common security problems with those responsible for developing and operating" systems that control the nation's energy infrastructure.

Idaho National Laboratory, the department branch, that performed the tests identified the most prevalent issues plaguing system owners without naming the individual assets. Typical insecure coding practices accounted for many of the security flaws, according to the report:

Assessments reported large [industrial control system] attack surfaces created by excessive open ports allowed through firewalls and unsecure and excessive services listening on them. Well-known unsecure coding practices account for most of the ICS software vulnerabilities, which result in system access vulnerability or denial of service (DoS).

However, poor patch management provides more likely attack targets because the vulnerabilities are public and attack tools are available for them. Once ICS network access is obtained, status data and control commands can be manipulated as they are communicated by unsecured ICS protocols.

Steven Aftergood, who directs the project on government secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists, noted on his Secrecy News blog that the findings aren't earth-shattering but "by describing the issues in some detail, the new report may help to demystify the cyber security problem and to provide a common vocabulary for publicly addressing it."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.