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Brian Harrell Interview
| Curtis Marquardt |

Driven to Protect

If you were to Google the term “utility security expert,” a name that appears at the top of the list is Brian Harrell—and for good reason. Harrell has the distinguished honor of having served in key security leadership roles in both the public and private sectors. Currently, Harrell oversees physical security, cybersecurity, privacy, intelligence and business continuity units for Avangrid, an energy company with operations across 25 states. Prior to that, Harrell was appointed by the President of the United States in 2018 to serve as the sixth assistant secretary for infrastructure prote…

Water Lock

Threats on the Horizon: The Challenges of Securing the Nation’s Water Utilities and the Strategies to Overcome Them

As I sat down to write this article, the town of Flint, Michigan, popped into my head. For anybody who works in the water sector, the mere mention of Flint is likely to spark mental images of a water crisis, national news coverage, footage of angry citizens, and a glimpse into what the fallout from a water crisis looks like. And while Flint’s 2014 water management fiasco was not borne from the impacts of a security breach, it certainly does forecast what could happen should a water utility suffer an attack that impairs its ability to deliver potable drinking water to its communities. To …

Jim Willis Article Art

Are Assumptions Compromising Your Substation Security?

How many substation security or protection articles have you started reading, assuming the subject was one thing, only to discover it was something else? The problem stems from the fact that there are multiple definitions for substation security and protection: one digital/data, one electrical and another physical. When utility professionals hear “substation protection,” many immediately think about electrical protection. Circuit breakers, fuses and switchgear come to mind; some visualize coordination study time & current graphs. But as crucial as electrical protection is, it’s only …

| Curtis Marquardt |

The Emerging Cybersecurity Threats and Solutions of Artificial Intelligence (And Some Resources to Help Ready You for Both)

As artificial intelligence solutions continue to grow into the pop culture lexicon, many envision this technology as the beginning of a dystopian nightmare that ends with us cowering away from the red glowing eye of an Arnold Schwarzenegger-skinned robot. But while the threats of a doomed Terminator-esque fate loom in the imaginations of some, others are imagining ways this evolving technology will empower utility cybersecurity professionals to improve their security posture in ways that were previously not possible. We sat down with cybersecurity and AI expert James Edgar to learn about…

| Darin Dillon |

Are You Prepared for the Next Attack?

Do you believe the energy sector has become a critical watchpoint because of its unprecedented constant attacks? You’re not the only one. More than 700 documented attacks from 2010 to 2020, ranging from cyber to physical to natural hazards, serve as real-life reminders that leaders in the utility space must remain focused on how best to protect our most vital assets, including information technology (IT), operational technology (OT) and SCADA systems for process automation. Do you recall the horrific physical attack in 2013 on California’s critical infrastructure that exposed the extreme…

5 Questions with Bomb Threat Expert Sean Haglund

We sat down with Sean Haglund, who serves as the Associate Director for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s Office for Bombing Prevention (CISA OBP) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). CISA OBP leads DHS’ efforts to enhance national security by building public and private capabilities to deter, prevent and respond to bombing incidents. During our discussion, he shared some valuable insights and advice on how utilities can be better prepared for bomb threats. Q1: Why should utilities really be thinking more about bomb threats? HAGLUND: We are currently faci…

Are You Ready for a Drone Attack on Your Infrastructure?

In July 2020, someone fitted a DJI drone with two long ropes; both ropes had a long copper wire tied to the end of it. That person then attempted to fly the drone into a substation in Pennsylvania. Through luck or perhaps operator error, the drone never reached the substation, instead crashing onto the roof of an adjacent building. But as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported, this effort was done with the intent to disrupt the grid. Since then, we’ve seen the use of drones in military conflicts overseas ramp up considerably, including an instance where Ukraine sent drones into …

The Safety and Security Paradox

In this inaugural issue of Utility Security magazine, I felt the best place to start this column was with a foundational understanding from which we can build later. Let’s begin with a discussion of the paradox between safety and security. Many people see safety and security through the same lens and use the words interchangeably, but that’s a mistake. They’re different in concept and application. The terms themselves are paradoxical; they’re both ambiguous in concept and, at the same time, laser-focused in application. Let’s look closer at safety to see just how ambiguous the two terms …

From the Battle of Fallujah to Helping Utilities Respond to Active Shooter Incidents

Utility Security Magazine: Tell our readers more about how you got into active shooter response training and what made you passionate about it. Jake Edwards: It really started for me right after 9/11. After that attack happened, I joined the Marine Corps and was deployed to Iraq. I was in the Second Battle of Fallujah, which was a massive and deadly battle and one of the largest urban combat battles in recent U.S. military history. When I was in that battle, facing gunfire, it helped me understand what was needed to survive that sort of conflict. I had to trust and work with new peopl…

| Curtis Marquardt |

What is More Critical than Utilities?

“Why launch a utility security magazine?” is a question I’ve heard a few times as we’ve worked over the past year to launch Utility Security. And my best response to that question is to ask this: When you hear the words “Flint, Michigan,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? I would bet that you first thought about the water crisis event that happened 10 years ago. It made national headlines and led most news broadcasts for weeks at a time. Michigan’s governor at the time quickly declared a state of emergency and the National Guard was brought in to help distribute water. People p…

iP Covers Utility Expo 2023
| Kurt Moreland |

iP Covers The Utility Expo 2023

Kurt Moreland, was live at The Utility Expo 2023, where he got an up-close look at all the latest innovations in the utility industry. He explored the show floor, met with exhibitors, and learned about the newest products and services that can help utilities improve their efficiency, safety, and sustainability. Here are just a few of the things that caught Kurt’s eye: Electric vehicles and equipment: The Utility Expo featured a wide range of electric vehicles and equipment, from electric bucket trucks to electric excavators. Kurt was particularly impressed with the new Volvo EC230…

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