The World Energy Council recently warned the utility industry that one of the top threats to the energy sector is advanced malware attacks. The warning noted that the utility sector is vulnerable because of the size of the organizations, which lend them to have multiple networks, including industrial control systems, payment systems and customer service systems.

The four types of malware that utility operators should anticipate include:

  • Backdoor malware: hackers establish a “backdoor” into the company’s network through remote access Trojans (RATs) and botnets and can remain in the system undetected putting the entire system at risk.
  • Banking Trojans: malware that is typically used to access bank accounts by stealing login credentials. These Trojans are now being used to steal other types of online credentials, including credentials in the energy sector.
  • Ransomware: used to encrypt the victim’s data and make it inaccessible until an amount of money (usually in Bitcoin or other virtual currency) is paid. It has been increasing rapidly.
  • Wipers: erase your data. It spreads like malware, and can lead to loss of control of the system or disable critical systems if a robust back up system is not in place.

The warning outlines the steps to combat the malware. This includes the following:

1.  Establish the strongest perimeter defense possible.
2.  Segmentation.
3.  Protect data and key operations through encryption, network monitoring and testing.