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Is the US power grid at risk for cyber attacks?

Posted: 7:38 AM, Jan 07, 2016
Updated: 2016-01-07 12:38:01Z

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- A cyber attack left hundreds of thousands of people without power in Ukraine just a couple weeks ago. Hackers made their way in to the country's power system and shut it down.  Is the U.S. power grid at risk for cyber attacks?

Greg Scasny with Cybersecurity Defense Solutions in Fort Myers says the U.S. could be a prime target.  "The threat of someone wanting to do us harm, especially the United States, is very, very real," Scasny said. "It happens all the time."

He says cyber attacks at the U.S. are so frequent you can take look for yourself on Norsecorp.com.  The website shows cyber attacks around the world in real time.

Scasny says the hack in Ukraine was very targeted, written specifically for the country's control system that requires lots of funds and ability.

"A virus targeted for this Ukranian power system got on their computers," Scasny said. "It infected them and basically allowed hackers to shut down the power grid to a hundred thousand people in the Ukraine."

Scasny says the control systems in the US are just as vulnerable. "It's not just a problem for third world countries or emerging nations or anything like that," Scasny said. "It's a known problem."

A problem Homeland Security knows about and is working to improve the infrastructure is built to make it more secure and safe.

According to the Homeland Security website , the nation's electric power infrastructure "is at risk from both malicious cyber attacks and accidental failures."

Science and Technology and the Department of Energy are working on a project called Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid (TCIPG) to make improvements to the infrastructure to make it more reliable and safe.

"People are out there always trying to hack into the system," Ryan said. "I mean, that's what they do, and so we have dedicated resources that every day monitor and look for that type of thing and address it."