Since 2011, NERC has hosted a biennial Grid Exercise
for industry and government organizations throughout North America. Set up as a
tabletop simulation, organizations have the opportunity to demonstrate how they
would respond to severe cyber and physical security threats.
These Grid Exercises are created to determine where
improvements need to be made in response plans in an exciting and interactive
way that does not involve any sort of compliance action.
GridEx IV was designed to challenge utilities and to
really test the friction points. The 2015 cyber-attack in Ukraine, as well as
the recent spreading of “Fake News” across social media, were key influencers
for creating this year's simulation. More than 6,500 participants from 450
industry agencies and organizations participated in this year's Grid Exercise.
Participants include the utilities, RTO’s, Regions, the Department of Energy,
Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and Department of Defense. While some
participants actively responded to events, others simply observed the exercise.
RF has been participating since the onset of GridEx,
and enjoyed the unique challenges of GridEx IV. Representatives from RF
participated on the GridEx Working Group in developing the scenario for GridEx
IV. Once the master scenario was annualized, RF developed injects (simulated
events) specific to RF resources, including our IT Infrastructure and our
corporate communications capabilities.
The purpose of these custom injects was to test
recently improved internal processes and procedures related to Event Analysis,
Situation Awareness, Incident Identification and Response, and Emergency
Communications. Throughout the 2-day exercise, RF staff collaborated with
participating staff from NERC, our RTOs, and Registered Entities to understand
how the scenario was unfolding and what our entities were experiencing as a
result of the exercise. We were also able to identify how RF could assist our
entities’ response to the scenario.
Going forward, RF will participate in NERC-led
discussions to capture lessons learned across the ERO and will incorporate
those lessons learned, as well as our own internal lessons learned into
continuing to improve our internal processes and procedures.
We will continue to work with others within the ERO
to improve communications between and among NERC, the Regional Entities and the
Registered Entities so we are all better prepared should a real event of the
magnitude simulated in GridEx IV occur.