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Reports that the U.S. electric grid was penetrated by foreign spies may on the surface seem shocking. But as Brightfly Managing Director of Research Brandon Dunlap knows, attempts at cracking the networks of U.S. utilities are not new. Brightfly is a consulting company specializing in advising on security and governance, risk and compliance.

"While I was running the information protection program at Constellation Energy, we expanded our sensor network dramatically, on the order of 800 percent, allowing us to get very granular and expansive information about malicious activity," Dunlap recalled. "What struck us almost immediately was the sheer volume of activity originating from well beyond our national borders. Many of these events were coming from foreign universities and large corporations."

As lawmakers decide how best to improve U.S. cyber-security, Dunlap noted cultural issues at play within the utilities industry that affect its security posture and extend beyond the reach of government regulation.

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