Energy cybersecurity: The need for effective resilience

Workers at Japanese power utility prepare for disaster drill in control room
Workers at Kyushu Electric Power Company prepare for a disaster drill in the central control room of the utility’s power plant at Satsumasendai, Japan (source: dpa)
  • New digital technologies make advanced economies more vulnerable to cyberattack
  • The risks are especially high for critical infrastructures and their control systems
  • Layered defense in depth and faster recovery times are key to limiting damage

While warnings of a “digital Pearl Harbor” in the form of cyberattacks are nothing new, advanced economies such as the United States, the European Union and Japan may be more exposed than ever. Over the past decade there has been a worldwide push to build political and public awareness of emerging cyber threats, and to bolster the defenses of public institutions and industries. Yet resilience has not sufficiently improved.

In 2016, the cost to businesses of cyberattacks was estimated at about $450 billion. According to a 2017 threat assessment of internet organized crime by the EU’s law enforcement agency, Europol, the global impact and spread of cyberattacks over the past year has been unprecedented, and the international response has been insufficient. A single, extremely disruptive cyberattack has the potential to cause up to $120 billion in economic damage, which would make it more destructive than natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012, according to calculations by the insurer Lloyd’s of London.

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