Many electric and gas utilities in the United States use the Windows XP operating system. So, when Microsoft ends support for the software in April, utilities might find themselves at a security risk, according to a blog in the Wall Street Journal.
After April 8, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for Windows XP, making it vulnerable to cyber attacks, which could even cause electricity outages.
According to the Wall Street Journal article, it could cost some utilities millions of dollars to upgrade their operating system.
Last year, of all the cyber incidents reported to the Department of Homeland Security’s industrial control systems cyber emergency response team (ICS-CERT), 59 percent were related to the energy sector, says the WSJ.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) does conduct periodic grid security exercises to prepare the electricity sector to respond to a cyber incident and strengthen utilities’ crisis response functions.