Fortify Your Business Against Power Grid Failures and Cyberattacks in 2024

PublisherSol Minion Developmenthttps: Cybersecurity business continuityplanningextreme weather

As 2024 draws nearer, cyberattacks and extreme weather events are expected to be primary concerns for critical infrastructure and businesses around the globe. Here’s what you need to know.

Growing Cybersecurity Threats

According to Security Matters’ summary of the Business Continuity Institute’s (BCI) 2023 Horizon Scan Report, “Cyber attacks are now firmly top of the list when it comes to the 2024 risk landscape as such attacks continue to grow, attack vectors shift and Artificial Intelligence threatens to make the cyber security landscape even more complex.”

Just last month, a ransomware attack triggered hospitals in the Ardent Health Services Network to divert patients to other hospitals, according to a recent Associated Press article. Ardent, which operates hospitals across six states, temporarily took its network offline and suspended user access to patient information applications in response to the attack.

The extent to which patient health or financial information may have been compromised remains unclear, according to the article.

Power Grid Vulnerabilities

The BCI Horizon Scan Report places extreme weather events second on the risk index for 2024. Last year, extreme weather events only ranked 6th on the risk index.

Aging infrastructure and an increase in severe weather events are a reality across North America. According to an article from the American Public Power Association, the eastern two-thirds of the continent are likely to face energy shortages this winter if there are any prolonged, wide-area cold snaps.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) 2023-2024 Winter Reliability Assessment indicates that there may also be insufficient natural gas supplies for generators, particularly in the Southeast.

Resilience Strategies

Prepare for Outages and Attacks

You can’t anticipate every risk, but you can prepare. Having a robust cybersecurity plan and setting up backup measures for business continuity goes a long way. With these in place, you can mitigate long-term damage to your business and customer relationships.

Safety Planning

Keeping tabs on the weather might be a given, but it’s also important to have a clear contingency plan for extreme weather and power outages. There should be an established process for deciding when operations need to be adjusted and communicating safety plans with your team.

Now more than ever, it makes sense to adopt energy-efficient practices to keep your business running smoothly, even when there is additional stress on energy infrastructure. It may also be worthwhile to invest in backup power sources, such as generators and fuel or uninterruptible power supply (UPS) batteries to mitigate outage risks.

Diversify Your Data Storage

Back up all essential data often, and store it in more than one secure location. Make sure you back up your primary data regularly and store it securely, with at least one copy offline and one off-site site.

This way, your critical data won’t be completely lost in the event of an extreme weather event or data breach.

Monitor Essential Systems

If you have an in-house IT team, they should be testing your software and backup procedures regularly to make sure they’re working as expected. If you don’t, a software developer or business continuity firm can help with that.

We say this a lot, but always double-check that all your systems and plug-ins are up-to-date, as aging systems leave you more vulnerable to attacks. Make sure your team understands this so they don’t ignore pesky update alerts for the sake of convenience.

Communication Protocols

In the event of a data breach or extreme weather event, everyone on your team should know who to notify and who will handle external communications about the event.

Regardless of the size of your team, having documented protocols makes a difference. Formalize a plan of action and establish points of contact, designating who will handle communication and how.

Tech Target suggests establishing a communication role on your incident response team, to make sure your communication is consistent and coordinated. The article also suggests creating templates for customer outreach messages to help with consistent messaging. Be sure someone monitors social media to respond to customer comments and questions promptly.

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