The 2015 cyberattack that shut down part of Ukraine’s national grid still sends ripples of concern through utilities across the globe.

Do you ever wonder how your electric cooperative would have fared under a similar attack?

That’s the question being asked at a new CyberStrike Workshop, sponsored by NRECA in partnership with the American Public Power Association.

On Jan. 30, 49 staff from 30 co-ops and 12 staff from six municipal utilities will travel to Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to get hands-on cybersecurity experience using, among other tools, simulations of the attacks in Ukraine that allowed hackers to take control of substation breakers.

“CyberStrike provides a great opportunity for our members to understand the tools used by attackers and how to defend against them,” said Cynthia Hsu, NRECA’s cybersecurity program manager.

The workshop will focus on helping utility owners and grid operators improve cybersecurity detection and response and understand the many interdependencies between the nation’s grid and other critical infrastructure.

“There are many actions co-op leaders can take right now to shore up the cybersecurity at their co-op,” Hsu said.

The program will pose key questions to participants:

  • In the event of a hack, does your co-op have an incident-response plan to follow?

  • Does your co-op have the ability to identify devices that have been compromised and disconnect them from your network?

  • Does your co-op have strong working relationships with your local FBI and National Guard representatives and the U.S. Departments of Energy and Homeland Security? Do you know who to contact if your co-op is attacked?

  • Is the cybersecurity training of your control room operators and engineering staff up to date?

  • How often does your co-op conduct cybersecurity exercises to test and strengthen your staff’s response skills?

NRECA is preparing to host a second CyberStrike Workshop later this year. Once finalized, the date and location will be announced in NRECA’s Business and Technology Update newsletter.

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