SAN ANTONIO – From phishing emails to ransomware attempts, the City of San Antonio faces thousands of cyberattacks a day.
But through the new Alamo Regional Security Operations Center (ARSOC) at Port San Antonio, though, city officials say they can collaborate closely with CPS Energy -- and possibly soon other local organizations -- to help each other better protect against those attacks.
Years in the making, the ARSOC has been operational since late November and had a grand opening on Friday.
“It really is borne from some smart cyber-intelligence folks who said, ‘We want to help each other out,’ who had a concept of service above self -- more important than just taking care of my agency but helping us all work together,” said San Antonio Chief Information Officer Craig Hopkins.
Hopkins says the city’s network security, cybersecurity, and some intelligence and physical security teams are working out of the new building.
A CPS Energy spokeswoman said the utility does not have staff on-site yet and could not give a time frame for when they’d arrive. However, she said they plan to have cybersecurity analysts at the ARSOC, but staffing will vary based on availability and the threat level.
While the city and CPS Energy don’t share systems, they can give each other a heads up about what they’re seeing.
“So the primary operation is to watch, defend the wall,” Hopkins said. “Watch what’s happening in your organization as cyberattacks happen, but to share that information with others because we know if what happens at CPS is probably going to happen at the city, it is probably going to happen at other partners as well. So to get that quick intelligence across.”
The consequences of a successful cyberattack could be severe. CPS Energy CEO Rudy Garza reminded the crowd at the unveiling of the chaos caused by the grid problems in February.
“We know the devastation that a major winter event like what happened in February can have not only on San Antonio but on the entire state of Texas, on the central U.S. It was devastating,” Garza said. “You know, we’ve got bad actors across the world that would love nothing better than to do that day in and day out. And they have with other utilities across the United States and across the, you know, the entire globe.”
Hopkins said ARSOC could include more partners than just the city and CPS Energy. VIA Metropolitan Transit is coming on board, he said, and they’ve had conversations with SAWS, the San Antonio River Authority, the San Antonio Housing Authority, “and many other municipal agencies.”
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