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Powerful Living


How Could Hacking Impact My Electricity?


By Hayley Leatherwood F


rom data breaches into retail giants like Target to credit reporting agencies like Experian, the word “hack” has become common- place in news alerts across the globe. Because of the frequency, it could be easy to grow desensitized to the threat and consequences


a hacking event can have on a person and/or organization. The good news is your electric cooperative protects the electric grid against cyber security threats every day. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and we have consulted Michael Meason, senior manager of information and security at Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, based in Anadarko, Oklahoma, to show how your cooperative is keeping your electricity safe.


Q: What is “hacking?”


The term “hacking” has been historically used to describe activities asso- ciated with inquisitive people discovering how things work. Hacking has traditionally been an exercise of immersion in a topic of interest which ultimately leads to a detailed understanding of how a product or process is designed to work, and how one can make it work in ways the designers never considered it could work. The contemporary connotation associated with hacking has a derogatory slant to it and is now the generally accepted notion that “hacking” is ma- licious. People should care about hacking because the reliance upon tech- nology in our everyday lives is so pervasive that the subversion of technology can produce some pretty risky results, whether that be in the power grid, self-driving cars, or the global positioning systems (GPS) systems that we rely upon.


Q: The original infrastructure of the grid was developed for physical threats in mind (weather, vandalism, etc.). As the grid continues to become “smarter,” what do cyber threats look like?


Unfortunately, the cyber threats to a modernized grid infrastructure are more serious than they have ever been. However, there is more focus on operational cyber security at this time than ever before. It is an identifi ed issue that the industry is expending a lot of resources to address. We are working very hard to continue to address the core business concerns of delivering electricity to members while paying close attention to important issues like cyber security as well as other emerging topics.


6 WWW.OKL.COOP


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