Global power industry faces threats from ‘daily’ cyberattacks, warns GE

The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team has accused the Russian government of a ‘multi-stage intrusion campaign’ targeting the US energy grid. (Shutterstock)
Updated 13 June 2018
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Global power industry faces threats from ‘daily’ cyberattacks, warns GE

  • GE’s Justin Eggart: “There are some bad actors out there. We talk to customers every day and it is the fastest growing threat.”
  • Justin Eggart sees lots of opportunities in the Kingdom as it works to diversify the economy away from oil dependence under the Vision 2030 strategy.

ATLANTA: Daily cyberattacks on power plants around the world are one of the biggest issues the global energy industry faces, according to senior executives of General Electric, the giant US engineering conglomerate.
“There have been attempted attacks at virtually every customer site in the world,” said Justin Eggart general manager of GE’s thermal power division based in Atlanta, Georgia.
“There are some bad actors out there. We talk to customers every day and it is the fastest growing threat. We’ve never had a successful cyberattack on our operations here (in Atlanta), but some of our customers around the world have been impacted,” he said.
Christopher Held, engineering manager at the GE monitoring and diagnostics (M&D) center in the city, added: “We see people trying to hack in every day but they have never succeeded. It is something we take very seriously and have a big team working on it.” He added that attacks came from several countries, including Russia and China.
The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team in March accused the Russian government of a “multi-stage intrusion campaign” targeting the US energy grid with a campaign of cyberattacks stretching back at least two years.
GE is one of Saudi Arabia’s longest-standing industrial partners; there is a unit of the company’s M&D operation in Damman, opening in partnership with Saudi Electricity Company. GE also works with Saudi Aramco in industrial power generation.
Eggart said that he saw lots of opportunities in the Kingdom as it worked to diversify the economy away from oil dependence under the Vision 2030 strategy. “As the economy develops that will change the nature of power production and consumption, and we can help with that,” he said.
The Atlanta operation monitors the global power generation network GE runs around the world, as well as selling monitoring services to other manufacturers of power generation equipment, overseeing 946 plants in 76 countries.
Held said that the center processed one million pieces of information per second, and that there were about 60,000 alerts per year. Some 180 “major events” involving a total stoppage of power and costly damage to generating equipment were prevented last year, he said
M&D is one of GE’s fastest growing business streams, with 30 to 40 percent increases witnessed since 2016, similar growth rates projected in the coming years Eggart said that the power industry was facing “significant challenges” in addition to cyber threats, including the transition to renewable technology, lack of infrastructure in some parts of the world, and the need for new investment in aging plants and distribution grids.
He also criticized tariffs on imported steel and aluminum introduced by the Trump administration, noting that the move was driving up costs across GE’s business.
“We’re not supportive of tariffs, and would rather support free trade. Tariffs raise the cost of manufacture and we would rather not see them,” he said.


Pay for Britain’s top bosses rises 23 percent

Updated 15 August 2018
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Pay for Britain’s top bosses rises 23 percent

  • Excessive corporate pay has attracted public anger since the financial crisis
  • The increase far exceeds the 2.5 percent increase in average salaries for British workers to £29,009

LONDON: Pay packages for the bosses of Britain’s 100 biggest listed firms rose 23 percent over the past year, fueled by payouts for the CEOs of house builder Persimmon and industrial firm Melrose Industries, a survey showed on Wednesday.
Excessive corporate pay has attracted public anger since the financial crisis and Prime Minister Theresa May has denounced the gap between the amounts paid to bosses and average workers as irrational and unhealthy.
The survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the High Pay Center thinktank showed the average income for chief executives of companies in the FTSE 100 share index was £5.7 million ($7.25 million) in their financial year ending in 2017, up 23 percent from the previous year.
The increase far exceeds the 2.5 percent increase in average (mean) salaries for British workers to £29,009, according to the Office for National Statistics.
A similar study a year ago showed bosses’ average pay had dropped by 17 percent over the previous year.
CIPD said the strong performance of the stock market in the years to 2017 was probably a factor in this year’s increase but that this should prompt questions about the contribution of individual bosses to share performance as opposed to other factors such as economic context or the wider workforce.
The CIPD report said the mean figure was skewed by very large payouts to the bosses of house builder Persimmon and Melrose Industries.
Excluding these two chief executives would bring the mean single figure down from £5.7 million to £4.8 million, still representing a 6 percent increase from the previous year.
The highest paid CEO in the financial year ending 2017 was Persimmon’s Jeff Fairburn, who received £47.1 million, more than 20 times his pay in 2016, largely due to a long-term incentive plan dating back to 2012.
That plan gave share options to managers of Britain’s second-biggest house builder which they could sell once the company had returned a set level of cash and dividends to investors.
In February 2018 it scaled back these rewards amid criticism that a government scheme had bolstered house builders.
Simon Peckham, chief executive of Melrose Industries, an industrial turnaround specialist that clinched an £8 billion hostile takeover of British engineer GKN in March, was paid £42.8 million in the financial year ending in 2017, mainly due to a 2012 incentive plan.
A Melrose spokesman highlighted the impact of the long-term incentive plan, adding: “The salary and bonus of the CEO was £974,000 last year which puts him squarely in line with the average pay ratio for employees as evidenced in the report.”
A spokeswoman for Persimmon was not immediately available to comment.