TVA audit finds transmission system vulnerable to cyber attack, TVA officials take corrective action

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Tennessee Valley Authority's transmission system is the backbone of its electricity network, but an internal review recently found gaps in TVA's cybersecurity protections that increased their risk of a cyber attack.

"So all of the power that is received throughout the seven states that TVA serves travels along those 16,000 miles of transmission lines," TVA spokesman Jim Hopson told WHNT News 19 Tuesday. "And those transmission lines are controlled through a fairly sophisticated computer system, that has a multi-layer defense system to prevent cybersecurity intrusions."

TVA's inspector general reported the vulnerabilities in the system last week. Hopson said the issues were minor and corrected within a week.

"These types of cybersecurity intrusion drills are absolutely vital to ensure that all of our systems are on the cutting edge of protection," he said.

The electricity industry shares information about system security and threats, Hopson said.  TVA, a federal agency, is also included in the federal government's cybersecurity system.

"So that we get very rapid notice to any significant changes to the posture of cybersecurity and to the fixes that may be necessary to ensure that those issues don't create a problem for us in the Tennessee Valley," Hopson said.

Hopson likened the daily battle with hackers to a chess match, with the need to stay many moves ahead.

"So that a hacker, for example, would be able to penetrate the outer layers, there would be an instant response while all of the inner layers are still holding," Hopson said.

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