WPI Workforce Leader to Educate Power Systems Engineers about Minimizing Cyberattacks on Utilities

WPI’s Jim Girouard to speak at Energy Council of the Northeast annual event
November 03, 2015

Jim Girouard will discuss how organizations can protect themselves against cyber threats.

Noting that utilities have become a prime target for cyberattacks in recent years, Jim Girouard, ‎a senior member of Worcester Polytechnic Institute's (WPI) Corporate and Professional Education division, will deliver a presentation to power systems leaders describing how advanced education can help utilities reduce the risk of a cyberattack.

On Nov. 6, Girouard will speak at the Energy Council of the Northeast's (ECNE) annual Fall Engineering and Operations Conference, which will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Leominster, Mass.

His talk, titled "Reducing the Risk of a Cyber Attack on Utilities," will focus on the essential elements of workforce education and training that leverages best practices as outlined by the framework established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

"Attacks on utilities are becoming increasingly sophisticated and multi-dimensional, directing both cyber and physical assaults while applying a surprising amount of domain knowledge," said Girouard. "New smart grid technologies open additional avenues of attack. An educated and disciplined workforce is the linchpin of an effective cyber defense."

Girouard will discuss what it takes to protect an organization from ever-evolving cyber threats. His presentation will cover how companies must

  • move beyond purchasing cyber security hardware and software to educating people and managing how they use these tools;
  • provide ongoing education to understand evolving threats and to prevent, detect, and effectively respond to cyber intrusions;
  • assess the risks in an integrated way, and show employees how to be "human firewalls";
  • and have trained, certified cybersecurity professionals on their team who understand the latest threats.

Recognizing that most successful hacks involve employees—either willfully or in gross error— ECNE, a regional trade association of electric utility companies, as well as vendors and suppliers to the industry, is offering this new cyber track. Its mission is to provide the exchange of information on engineering, technical, safety, and operational issues in an effort to increase their ability to provide reliable service to customers.