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Cyberattacks on the Energy Sector Continue to Rise

Cyberattacks on the energy sector have been rapidly growing since 2017, and we saw an all-time high of cyberattack events on the sector in 2022. The energy sector is particularly vulnerable due to these types of attacks due to the outdated and unsecured networks oftentimes used in the industry, as well as the increased use of distributed energy resources (“DER”), which creates more openings to attack and requires more resources to monitor and manage.

Wind infrastructure is no exception to the vulnerabilities of the industry. In fact, in 2022, there were three high-profile cyberattacks against wind facility operators and turbine manufacturers in Europe. In February, a wind turbine maker lost remote connection to nearly 6,000 turbines following a disruption of satellite links coinciding with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In March, a ransomware attack was launched against another wind turbine maker, in which the hackers locked down their systems and sought a ransom. In April, a wind energy company experienced a cyberattack that caused the company to shut down their remote systems for nearly a full day.

Wind assets are typically owned by independent power producers, may change ownership multiple times throughout the asset’s lifecycle, and often include a variety of components that are developed, owned, operated, and maintained by a variety of independent companies which can result in a number of different makes, models, and configurations of equipment. Because of this, wind assets are less uniform—which makes it far more difficult to implement a uniform security approach that properly accounts for all the different vulnerabilities that may exist in any given wind facility.

Foley Hoag logoFoley Hoag has continued to monitor the threats faced by the energy sector, the vulnerabilities in the infrastructure, and the government’s actions to respond. Our most recent blog posts on the topic can be found here.

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