Electric companies working hard to limit potential cyberattacks

MDU Substation in Watford City
MDU Substation in Watford City(KFYR)
Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 3:24 PM CDT
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WILLISTON, N.D. - Over the past two months, the United States has witnessed the power of cyberattacks and what they can do to major industries like the Colonial Pipeline and the JBS Meat Processing Plant.

Your electricity could also be susceptible to such an attack, and power companies are aware.

“It’s always a concern for us here at Mountrail Williams that this could happen, and we put as many measures in place as we can to make sure that it can not, and if it does what we will do in the event that it does, so we are ready for it,” said Scott Iverson, Senior Electrical Engineer with Mountrail Williams Electric Cooperative.

Power companies say there are many safeguards in place that would, in theory, keep an unexpected shutdown limited.

Montana-Dakota Utilities has put a lot of time and investment into defending its grid.

“We’ve invested a lot of money updating and monitoring our systems with the ultimate goal of nothing happening. But if we do have something that would happen, we have the ability to respond quickly and isolate a threat and ensure it doesn’t become a widespread issue,” said Mark Hanson, a spokesperson with Montana-Dakota Utilities.

Mountrail Williams officials say training employees to be aware of potential scams is important.

“Most of the hacks that are happening nowadays are coming by a spear phishing email - somebody is clicking on a link, sharing their credentials, or something like that - so we do a lot of in-user training not to do those things,” said Cole Arndt, IT Coordinator for Mountrail Williams.

While the potential of a cyberattack will always be there, companies say it’s not something the public should be constantly concerned about, and that they will do the best they can to defend against such an attack.

Both Montana-Dakota Utilities and Mountrail Williams say to always be cautious of suspicious emails and cold calls asking for private information. Falling for those could make you the target of a hack.

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