July 19, 2018 / 6:05 PM / in 5 months

U.S. energy regulator wants more disclosure of cyber attacks

FILE PHOTO - A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Files

(Reuters) - The U.S. government on Thursday asked power generators to disclose more information about cyber attacks amid growing concern that foreign hackers could disrupt the electric grid.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an energy industry regulator, called for the power industry’s regulating body, the North American Electric Reliability Corp, to expand rules that require reporting of cyber security incidents to include attempts that might facilitate future efforts to disrupt the grid.

FERC requested the increased disclosure after the administration of President Donald Trump blamed the Russian government in March for a campaign of cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid. That marked the first time the United States had publicly accused Moscow of hacking into American energy infrastructure.

“Cyber threats to the bulk power system are ever changing, and they are a matter that commands constant vigilance,” FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre said in a statement.

“Industry must be alert to developing and emerging threats, and a modified standard will improve awareness of existing and future cyber security threats.”

Current NERC rules only mandate reporting of cyber attacks if they compromise or disrupt a “core activity” toward maintaining the reliability of the electric grid, according to a 67-page report issued by FERC.

That threshold “may understate the true scope of cyber-related threats” facing the industry, the report said.

NERC said in a statement on its website that it “appreciated FERC’s action and will continue working with FERC and stakeholders toward assuring the reliability of the North American bulk power system.”

Reporting by Jim Finkle in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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