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Dakota Electric Association recently hosted a commercial member meeting on the topic of cyber security. Lizabeth Lehrkamp, special agent (SA) with FBI cyber security, discussed the various threats businesses — and even the nation — face and how to protect against such attacks. Marc Child, information security program manager from Dakota Electric’s wholesale power supplier, Great River Energy, discussed the security of the electric utility grid.  

A packed room heard SA Lehrkamp talk about strategies, tactics and motives of those who seek to break into computer systems. Motives may include bragging rights, negatively impacting the economy by disrupting business, seeking to undermine public confidence, or stealing money or intellectual information. SA Lehrkamp talked about a variety of ways businesses are vulnerable to attack, including network architecture, portable storage devices, wireless access points and more.

Child discussed recent attacks, both cyber and physical, faced by utilities. Utilities have grown in their understanding of the types of attacks, possible vulnerabilities and ways to protect their infrastructure and systems.

Utilities are working together to share information and improve communication between their organizations as well as with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), according to Child. Utilities from across the nation last November took part in GridEx II, which tested the response of utilities to a variety of attack scenarios.

-more- Dakota Electric provided the event to help its business members understand the cyber security risks and hopefully protect themselves against attacks.

“We offer seminars for our business members in both the spring and the fall,” said Mark Kortkamp of Dakota Electric. “We plan seminars that will give our members useful information to improve their business.”

The company’s fall business event is scheduled for September 18.