In a bold move to protect its critical infrastructure, National Grid is set to deploy an unconventional defense strategy against cyber attackers. The London-listed infrastructure provider, responsible for Britain’s electricity network and serving millions in New York and Massachusetts, is leaving no stone unturned in its mission to safeguard its digital assets.
The Million-Pound “Honeypot” Contract
National Grid has issued a high-stakes contract worth over a million pounds, seeking advanced cyber “deception” technology to bolster its digital defenses. This cutting-edge technology aims to lure and outsmart cyber attackers, enhancing the organization’s cybersecurity posture.
The Art of Deception: Honeypots and Honeytokens
At the heart of this strategy lie “honeypots” and “honeytokens.” These cybersecurity decoys are designed to deceive hackers, allowing National Grid to closely monitor their activities and thwart their malicious intentions. The deceptive approach promises to provide valuable insights into the tactics of potential attackers.
Planting False Documents as a Defense Tactic
National Grid’s contract also hints at a clever tactic: planting “false documents designed to appear sensitive or valuable” online. This digital bait is intended to attract hackers, further fortifying the organization’s defenses by gathering intelligence on potential threats.
Rising Concerns About Cyber Attacks
This innovative defense strategy comes at a time of growing concerns about cyber attacks on critical infrastructure in the Western world. Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has sounded alarms about “ideologically motivated” Russian hackers attempting to disrupt British infrastructure, while the National Cyber Security Centre has issued warnings regarding Chinese hackers.
Energy Sector’s Vulnerability to Cyber Threats
As the energy sector becomes increasingly digitized, the risk of cyber attacks escalates. Energy companies, including National Grid, have become prime targets, with a startling 16% of all cyber attacks in the UK targeting this industry in the past year, according to Martin Borrett, Technical Director of IBM Security.
Strengthening Cybersecurity Defenses
National Grid’s decision to deploy “honeypots” aligns with the UK government’s drive to bolster cybersecurity defenses. Recent technical failures in the UK’s air traffic control systems highlighted the vulnerability of crucial computer systems that underpin essential services.
Ofgem’s Deadline for Compliance
Energy regulator Ofgem has set a December deadline for gas and electricity companies to comply with stricter cybersecurity regulations. These regulations, part of the Network and Information Systems Regulations, emphasize the importance of cybersecurity in critical infrastructure.
National Grid’s Assurance and Collaboration
National Grid assures that its systems are robust and that it works closely with regulators and government departments to meet new regulations. The organization is committed to monitoring, detecting, and protecting its network against current and future threats.
The Global Landscape of Cyber Threats
Cybersecurity experts warn that countries like Russia, Iran, and China continue to pose significant threats to critical infrastructure worldwide. Recent incidents, including Russian hackers infiltrating a Ukrainian power station and Chinese malware discovered in a US military base, underscore the global nature of this menace.
Challenges in Strengthening Cybersecurity
Despite efforts to boost cybersecurity in the private sector, industry experts highlight challenges, including a shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals. Legacy hardware and control systems also pose vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.
National Grid’s decision to employ deceptive cyber tactics signals a significant shift in how critical infrastructure is protected from evolving cyber threats. As the battle against cyber attackers intensifies, innovative strategies like “honeypots” offer a glimmer of hope in the ongoing war for digital security.