American Electric Power CEO says it’s focused on cybersecurity defense for years

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American Electric Power CEO Nick Akins told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Thursday that the utility provider feels confident in its cybersecurity defenses.

“There’s no question that we’ve been in a heightened sense of security around the resiliency, particularly cyber and physical security. This industry has been obviously working with our government partners for a long time now, and we’re ready,” Akins said in an interview on “Mad Money.”

Akins’ comments were in response to a question from Cramer, who specifically asked the CEO whether the Columbus, Ohio-based electric utility would be “in good shape” if Russia attacked its power grid. AEP has 5.5 million customers across 11 states in the U.S.

The U.S. and European governments on Thursday announced additional sanctions targeting Moscow, after the Russian military invaded Ukraine following weeks of stepped up aggression toward its neighboring country.

As tensions between the Russia and the West intensify, it’s put the cybersecurity preparedness of institutions in other countries back in the spotlight, particularly those providing essential services. Russia has been known to use cyberattacks, and U.S. officials believe it was responsible for two recent incidents that crippled Ukrainian government websites, as well as those belonging to some banks in the country.

George Kurtz, the co-founder and CEO of CrowdStrike, said in a separate “Mad Money” interview Thursday that he’s spoken with executives at U.S. banks who are “very concerned” about Russian cyberattacks.

“And they should be,” Kurtz said, due to the widespread consequences that so-called wiper viruses can have. They are “designed to basically wipe a system,” Kurtz explained. “When we think about cyber, it has no boundaries for collateral damage.”

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