Malware, malicious software capable of wreaking havoc on computing devices and corporate networks, is rapidly evolving. Attacks are becoming more prevalent and increasingly sophisticated. Of existing malware types, ransomware is spreading the fastest and inflicting significant damage to individuals and businesses. The FBI conservatively estimates that losses due to reported ransomware attacks in 2015 exceeded $24 million. The criminals behind ransomware are targeting an ever-widening range of critical-service industries, including electric utilities. This article describes ransomware, provides utility case studies, and includes recommendations on how to protect against ransomware.

Value to Electric Cooperatives

Electric cooperatives and other utilities with their increasingly interconnected information systems and increasing reliance on intelligent and mobile devices are at risk. However, utilities are not alone: All businesses are facing this threat. A number of electric cooperatives have already reported direct experience with ransomware. Successful attacks can cost a cooperative lost time and productivity, permanent data loss, financial losses, and a host of other harmful effects. By understanding how ransomware works, co-ops can create layers of defense to prevent the malware from entering their co-ops, spreading if the malware gains entry, and minimizing damage from a ransomware event.


Management/CEOs, Board Members, Member/Customer Services, Engineering, IT, Operations