Power companies are under threat from cyber attacks and are “poorly equipped” to deal with such risks, according to a survey of utility businesses by accountancy firm EY.

The poll found 58% of energy companies anticipate having difficulties in monitoring their digital networks, compared to 36% across all sectors.

Matt Chambers, EY Global Power and Utilities Risk and Cybersecurity Leader, said: “An expanding digital ecosystem with potentially millions of networked access points is exposing utilities to more sophisticated and frequent cyber attacks, which have the potential to disrupt critical infrastructure.

“It is little surprise, therefore, that they are more worried than ever about the breadth and complexity of the evolving threat landscape.”

Firms face fines

Meanwhile, the UK Government has unveiled plans to levy £17 million fines on energy, water and transport companies that don’t have measures in place to resist cyber attacks.

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said: “We want our essential services and infrastructure to be primed and ready to tackle cyber attacks and be resilient against major disruption to services.

Ciaran Martin, Chief Executive at the National Cyber Security Centre, added: “Network and information systems give critical support to everyday activities, so it is absolutely vital that they are as secure as possible.”

> Read the UK Government's announcement