Current cyberthreat presentations, papers, reports, and other documents that focus on the utilities industry primarily highlight cyberthreats targeting advanced metering and critical infrastructures with the motivation being to manipulate operations. Rightly so, compromised critical infrastructure systems can potentially affect energy production and transmission operations, local government systems and infrastructure We are well aware of the potential damage advanced persistent threats can leave behind. There are several APT real world examples out there (Flame, Stuxnet)?and more in the works.
However, I would like to revisit cybercrime that targets the utilities industry. Cybercriminals exploiting utilities' business systems looking solely for financial gain is still a problem. However, cybercriminals no longer simply just want their electricity and water for free or to redirect funds to hackers' bank accounts.
Cybercriminals' new goals are more diverse and increasingly creative. For instance, "ne'er do well" businessmen in the crop distribution industry are hacking into their electric provider's infrastructure systems to mask spikes in their energy consumption. Or, hacktivist groups may target a specific utility to make them "pay" for an environmental transgression.
Regardless of cybercriminals' goals, there are operational impacts and financial repercussions that affect your bottom line. The examples cited above suggest that utilities be vigilant to cybercriminal activity that is essentially 'out of the box' in terms of motivations and objectives.
Be vigilant and prepared for the next advanced persistent threat but don't think the comparatively unsophisticated malware is falling by the wayside. If anything it's getting smarter.