Regulator Warns of Increasing Vulnerability to Cyberattacks in US Electric Grid


According to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), U.S. power grids are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks, with the number of potential weak points in electrical networks rising by approximately 60 per day.

In a recent webcast on Thursday, executives from the energy regulator revealed that the grids' virtual and physical vulnerabilities, defined as susceptible points in software or hardware that cybercriminals could exploit, increased from a range of 21,000 to 22,000 at the end of 2022 to 23,000 to 24,000 last year.

Manny Cancel, senior vice president of NERC, expressed the challenges in keeping up with addressing these vulnerabilities, noting, "It's very hard to keep pace with addressing all those vulnerabilities."

The geopolitical landscape, including events like Russia's invasion of Ukraine and conflicts in Gaza, has significantly amplified cyber threats to North American power grids, as per NERC. Additionally, threats commonly originate from China, and regulators anticipate a rise in attacks on the grid during the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

Cancel emphasized the need for vigilance during the current election cycle, stating, "We're going to be very vigilant during this current election cycle."

The frequency of physical assaults on the grid has also remained high since increasing in 2022, with NERC reporting around 2,800 incidents of gunfire, vandalism, and other attacks on electrical networks last year. Approximately 3% of these attacks resulted in outages or other operational disruptions.