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U.S. regulators want to tighten up on the cybersecurity risks facing the electric grid from devices like laptops and flash drives.

A ruling released last week by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requires utilities to implement security controls on portable devices that interact with “low-impact” systems, or ones that utilities deem less critical.

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FERC also ordered the revision of power reliability standards “to mitigate the risk of malicious code” stemming from the devices.

The move comes as the Department of Homeland Security has warned Russian government hackers have their sights on U.S. energy firms, and as Congress readies legislation to secure the grid.

Cyber Security

The North American Electric Reliability Corp., a regulatory entity that FERC oversees, said the updated policy “represents the next stage in cybersecurity standards” and will boost the sector’s baseline cybersecurity.

The use – and fear – of USB drives has loomed large in the energy industry for years.

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