Worcester Polytechnic Institute Workforce Leader to Educate Power Systems Engineers about Minimizing Cyberattacks on Utilities

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WPI's Jim Girouard to speak at Energy Council of the Northeast annual event

Jim Girouard will discuss how organizations can protect themselves against cyber threats.

Noting that utilities have become a prime target for cyberattacks in recent years, Jim Girouard, ‎a senior member of Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s (WPI) Corporate and Professional Education division, will deliver a presentation to power systems leaders describing how advanced education can help utilities reduce the risk of a cyberattack.

On Nov. 6, Girouard will speak at the Energy Council of the Northeast’s (ECNE) annual Fall Engineering and Operations Conference, which will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Leominster, Mass.

His talk, titled “Reducing the Risk of a Cyber Attack on Utilities,” will focus on the essential elements of workforce education and training that leverages best practices as outlined by the framework established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

“Attacks on utilities are becoming increasingly sophisticated and multi-dimensional, directing both cyber and physical assaults while applying a surprising amount of domain knowledge,” said Girouard. “New smart grid technologies open additional avenues of attack. An educated and disciplined workforce is the linchpin of an effective cyber defense.”
Girouard will discuss what it takes to protect an organization from ever-evolving cyber threats. His presentation will cover how companies must:

  • move beyond purchasing cyber security hardware and software to educating people and managing how they use these tools;
  • provide ongoing education to understand evolving threats and to prevent, detect, and effectively respond to cyber intrusions;
  • assess the risks in an integrated way, and show employees how to be “human firewalls”; and
  • have trained, certified cybersecurity professionals on their team who understand the latest threats.

Recognizing that most successful hacks involve employees—either willfully or in gross error— ECNE, a regional trade association of electric utility companies, as well as vendors and suppliers to the industry, is offering this new cyber track. Its mission is to provide the exchange of information on engineering, technical, safety, and operational issues in an effort to increase their ability to provide reliable service to customers.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI is one of the nation’s first engineering and technology universities. Its 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. WPI's talented faculty work with students on interdisciplinary research that seeks solutions to important and socially relevant problems in fields as diverse as the life sciences and bioengineering, energy, information security, materials processing, and robotics. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Projects Program. There are more than 45 WPI project centers throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe.

Andy Baron, Senior Manager of Trade Communications
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, Massachusetts
508-831-5916, ajbaron(at)wpi(dot)edu

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