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Tucson Electric Power and local expert discuss cyber security in Tucson

Posted at 9:28 PM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 17:25:36-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Since Russia’s invasion, Ukraine has reported a wave of high-level cyber attacks. This raises concern of similar problems in the United States, or even here in Tucson.

Various Ukrainian government websites were offline last week. It’s the result of a recent onslaught of cyber attacks since the Russian invasion.

“We’re being more cognizant of potential threats as a result of the situation in Ukraine,” said Joseph Barrios with Tucson Electric Power.

Tucson Electric Power serves more than 433,000 Tucsonans. Spokesperson Joseph Barrios says since the invasion of Ukraine, the company has been on high alert for cyber attacks.

“We’ve seen some warnings from law enforcement agencies and the federal government saying there’s potential for these types of attacks," Barrios said. "To say we have heightened awareness right now, that’s fair.”

TEP has dedicated cyber and physical security teams that are trained to respond to potential attacks. Barrios says cyber security has always been a part of TEP service.

“Protecting our critical assets, our operating systems, and sensitive information is a responsibility that we take seriously and we consider that to be part of providing safe and reliable service to our customers," Barrios said. "It's part of what we do on a daily basis.”

Barrios says TEP has not encountered any cyber attacks in recent years. If there is a breach in cyber security, there are national regulations in place that require TEP to report it within one hour.

“Even if there is a brand new threat, they have an ode virus that goes into the power grid system," Michael Galde, University of Arizona Asst. Professor of Cyber Operations. "There’s a plan in place already on how they would identify that threat, how'd they react to it.”

But experts say it’s unlikely Tucson would be directly targeted.

“Tucson, Arizona is not going to be the direct one to be attacked in a cyber attack," Galde said. "If anything is going to be attacked, it’ll be on the national side. At which point all the power grid operators will work to reroute power where needed.”