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State’s defenses hold off cyber attacks State’s defenses deflect cyber attacks

September 18, 2018

HARTFORD — Connecticut fights off 10 million cybersecurity attacks a week — from casual hackers to countries such as Russia — and so far the state has not suffered a serious penetration, a new report concludes.

“It’s clear hostile foreign actors will continue to try to disrupt us,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday as he released the latest report on the security threat facing the state.

“We can never guarantee absolute security, but we must define emerging threats and take steps to stop them,” Malloy said.

The report, a joint effort by the state’s electric, gas and water companies and a cadre of state officials, concluded the state is facing more frequent and sophisticated penetration attempts, but that those attacks have been met with “adequate defense capabilities.”

The attacks, officials said, ranged from attempts to disrupt the state’s electric, gas and water distribution systems to trying to obtain customer or taxpayer information.

So far, no serious penetration has occurred, and officials said the defensive system has been holding.

“I’m often asked ‘are we safe?’” said Arthur House, the state’s chief cybersecurity risk officer.

“The answer is No,” House said. “No one is safe, no state agency, no city and no individual. We are threatened all the time.”

The report concluded that “Connecticut’s utilities are spending more time, devoting more resources, educating their workforces and transforming their cultures more thoroughly to meet the increased level of threats.”

Melody Currey, commissioner of the state Department of Administrative Services, said cybersecurity is one of the “most critical issues” facing the state.

“Our professionals are working hard every day to deploy and administer the very best defenses and protocols to keep our state government’s systems secure and operational,” Currey said.

Under attack

Jim Hunt, an Eversource senior vice president for regulatory affairs, said the electric company fights off over 300 million cyberattacks a year from hackers seeking to disrupt the system or obtain customer information.

“These threats are real,” Hunt said. “We estimate we get a million knocks on the door from threats every day.”

Hunt said Eversource and the state’s other utilities are addressing the threat even as hacking technology evolves and improves.

“We have multiple layers of protections,” Hunt said.

House said the states are pretty much own their own to battle cyber attacks.

“Congress has not passed any significant cybersecurity legislation,” House said.

House added one of his greatest fears is a successful attack on the state’s water distribution system, noting people can live without electricity but not without water.

“That’s what keeps me up at night,” House said. “You can put an extra blanket on but without water you die. We have never experienced a prolonged [water] outage. There are clever bad people digging up something new every day.”

bcummings@ctpost.com

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