PUC Highlights National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October 05, 2017

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today joined with Governor Wolf and other state agencies to highlight National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and the role that every individual, organization and business plays in keeping our critical information and infrastructure secure.

For the PUC, much of the emphasis regarding cybersecurity involves strengthening efforts to prepare for so-called “Black Sky” events – defined as extraordinary, wide-reaching events capable of producing power outages that last significantly longer than typical weather or operational outages.

“An orchestrated cyberattack on our utility infrastructure could have the same wide-reaching and long-lasting impact on our communities as hurricanes or other natural disasters – not only disrupting the flow of electricity, but also disrupting many other vital systems and services that we depend upon,” said Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “The citizens of Pennsylvania should know there is a massive amount of work taking place, mostly behind the scenes, to reduce the risk and impact of Black Sky events.”

Chairman Brown noted that the PUC is working with utilities; state agencies like the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security; emergency responders and other organizations to better prepare for cyber and physical attacks, strengthen critical systems, share information about current and future threats, and ensure that essential services are as resilient as possible. Late this summer, those entities joined other stakeholders around the world in EARTH EX 2017, a first-ever transnational exercise to test responses to a large-scale power outage event.

The PUC has published a Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small and Medium Pennsylvania Utilities which is available on the Commission’s website and outlines for utilities ways to prevent identity or property theft; how to manage vendors and contractors who may have access to a company’s data; what to know about anti-virus software, firewalls and network infrastructure; how to protect physical assets, such as a computer in a remote location or a misplaced employee device; how to respond to a cyber-attack and preserve forensic information after the fact; how to report incidents; the potential benefits of engaging a law firm in advance of a breach; and a list of federal cyber incident resources.

Additionally, Chairman Brown stressed that it is equally important for consumers to review Pennsylvania’s online cybersecurity guide for tips to prevent identity theft, protect passwords, keep children safe online and secure mobile devices.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.

For recent news releases and video of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.pa.gov. Follow the PUC on Twitter – @PA_PUC for all things utility.  “Like” Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Facebook for easy access to information on utility issues.

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Nils Hagen-Frederiksen

Press Secretary



Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
Press Office
P.O. Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265
(717) 787-5722 FAX (717) 787-4193