According to an analysis of federal energy records and survey of more than 50 electric utilities by USA Today, the electric utilities reported 362 attacks between 2011 and 2014. Of these, 14 were reported as cyber attacks to the US Department of Energy.

However, other reporting systems showed an increased number of cyber attacks over the past four years.

In 2013, 151 cyber incidents associated with the energy industry were filed with the Department of Homeland Security’s division that monitors cyberthreats, compared to 111 and 31 in 2012 and 2011, respectively.

The physical and computerized security systems designed to safeguard the country from power outages are struck by a cyber or physical attack more often than once a week, the investigation finds.

Fewer security cameras monitor the transformers and other critical equipment; and no suspects in connection with attacks on electrical infrastructure have been identified since 2011.

The power industry-backed organization, which enforces guidelines for security, is said to have phased out 30% security penalties between 2013 and 2014.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission former chairman Jon Wellinghoff was quoted by USA Today as saying that the power grid is ‘too susceptible to a cascading outage’ as it depends on various substations and physical equipments.

"Those critical nodes can, in fact, be attacked in one way or another.

"You have a very vulnerable system that will continue to be vulnerable until we figure out a way to break it out into more distributed systems."

In April 2013, Pacific Gas & Electric’s Metcalf substation in northern California was attacked by unidentified persons, who severed six underground fiber-optic lines and fired more than 100 rounds of ammunition at the substation’s transformers.

The attackers have not been identified so far.