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CYBERSECURITY Alliance against blackouts: Companies protect energy suppliers

From Nicole Kareta

Together, Telekom, Hitachi Energy and Securitas want to protect energy suppliers against attacks. The companies have made the announcement ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

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The energy sector is a top target for hackers worldwide.
The energy sector is a top target for hackers worldwide.
(Source: Pugun & Photo Studio - stock.adobe.com)

Hackers cut off power to more than 700,000 households

Attacks on the energy sector target society as a whole. Attackers include state-backed hacker groups. The German domestic intelligence services cite the intelligence services of Russia, China and Iran as the source of cyberattacks against German plants. In 2015 and 2016, hackers had sabotaged power supplies in Ukraine, highlighting the impact of such attacks for the first time. More than 700,000 households were without power for hours.

The energy industry represents the most critical of infrastructure. Targeted attacks on pipelines, power plants or substations are on the rise. Examples include Colonial Pipeline in the USA and the Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas. In Brazil, hackers targeted the nuclear branch of Eletrobras.

Energy sector in top three attack targets worldwide

The sector is one of the top-three targets for cybercriminals worldwide. That's because the industry is now highly digital. Beyond corporate IT, smart operating computers with sensors control electricity. Digitally networked, they are also targets for attackers. Physical security is needed for plants in the energy sector. This is especially true for remote distribution stations, pumping stations and high-voltage pylons. If a hacker gets his hands on a control cabinet, he attacks from the inside. Even the best network firewall cannot protect against this. Here, for example, networked video cameras keep watch over the site.

Overarching protective shield

Securing critical infrastructures requires an overarching understanding of OT, IT and physical security. A team of experts from Telekom Security, Hitachi Energy and Securitas has developed an overarching approach in recent years. This combines physical protection with enterprise network and digital operational technology security. It enables critical infrastructures to meet protection and regulatory challenges.

Alliance partners make a statement

Telekom Security CEO Thomas Fetten: "Critical infrastructures are being attacked more and more frequently. The latest example in Portugal unfortunately shows how cyberattacks can affect networked technology. Electricity is particularly important. A successful, precise attack on this area of critical infrastructure would cripple life as we know it. The economy, too. That's why we're pooling our expertise in fighting physical attacks, just as we do against attacks from virtual space."

Pierre-Alain Graf, Head of Global Security Business Hitachi Energy: "We have a saying: the future is uncertain but electric. We are addressing climate change with renewable energy from the sun, water and wind. And are generating electricity in an increasingly decentralized way. This inevitably makes us more vulnerable to attack. The partnership therefore extends the umbrella of protection to production technology."

Anders Gustavsson, Head of Remote Video Solutions Securitas Services Europe: "Building a Fort Knox around solar farms and substations is not enough. Attackers shy away from robustly secured facilities. They move into cyberspace. Together, no one can fend off attacks on company networks, operating technology and sites alone. That's why we're pooling our expertise."

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