Articles by Vicki Contavespi

ISC West’s Mt. Everest climber witnesses deadly earthquake and avalanche

A demonstration of the home automation capabilities of Z-Wave wireless transmission – controlling a coffee maker from the Mt. Everest base camp – came off without a hitch at ISC West. A few days later, however, the veteran climber involved in the stunt got a first-hand look at the deadly 7.8 earthquake in Katmandu and the resulting avalanche. The adventurer, Mariusz Malkowski, began his love of climbing in his native Poland while in early high school. “I would go on an 8-hour...

Electric grid security: A closer look at CIP-014-1 standard

The FERC standard CIP-014-1 became effective, according to the Federal Register, on January 26, 2015 The electric power industry works with several federal agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Energy (DOE) to improve sector-wide resilience for cyber threats. The industry also collaborates with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the North American Electric Re...

Electric grid security: Regulations - A poor substitute

Compliance with regulatory requirements are not enough to protect the US electric grid  Many companies use compliance and best practices to assist in their fight to protect the U.S. electric grid. They rely primarily on what three groups say – FERC (Federal Energy and Regulatory Committee), CERT (U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team) and NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation). These groups issue advisories, standards and guidelines for the industr...

Cybersecurity - Hackers target SCADA embedded systems

Forty-one percent of cyber incidents involved the energy sector The Bipartisan Policy Center, the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, reports responding to 198 cyber incidents in fiscal year 2012 across all critical infrastructure sectors. Forty-one percent of these incidents involved the energy sector, particularly electricity, according to a February 2014 report. Considering the enormity of the...

US electric grid: Impact of catastrophic events

The number-one cause of most power outages in the U.S. is bad weather What does the industry consider to be its most severe threats the U.S. electric grid? There is no shortage of nightmare scenarios. According to the Department of Energy, the number-one cause of most power outages in the U.S. is bad weather, which costs the economy between $18 billion and $33 billion every year in lost output and wages, spoiled inventory, delayed production and damage to grid infrastructure....

White House incident draws attention to threats from drones

Drone is a toy with a bright future—until it causes a catastrophe Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are today’s gizmo du jour. A recent Bloomberg article reported that Amazon alone is selling more than 10,000 a month, and with prices as low as $50, it’s a toy with a bright future—until it causes a catastrophe. Consider the January incident at the White House when a drunken National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency employee lost control of a quadcopter...

US electric grid: Exposing complexities that make it vulnerable

The smarter the grid becomes, the more risks it will encounter Hollywood collided with couch-dwelling gamers this Christmas because of the hack on Sony’s computer system, allegedly committed by North Korea. Immediately, security experts began to wonder if a nation state or a terrorist group might try and hit the U.S. electric grid. The answer is likely yes, but it wouldn’t be the first time or the last, and the grid, smart or not, is extremely complex and interwove...