Critical Infrastructure And Cyber Security

The way power grids are operated and managed has changed fundamentally in the last years with the integration of more renewable and decentralised energy sources. With information and communication technology penetrating transmission and distribution networks, the growing interconnections create more vectors for potential attacks on digital energy grids. 

Cyber security is now a top priority for power system operators and government bodies. The need for network optimisation, interaction between both consumers and producers, along with the number of new market participants have all significantly increased.

Siemens Smart Infrastructure and the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to continue the cooperation on cyber security for critical infrastructure. Advancing their existing cooperation, the two sides will be involved with cyber security training for power grids.

In experimenting with grid control software Spectrum Power, Siemens gains valuable insights on the potential attack vectors and can thoroughly test new security features or protocols for its products and solutions. Locked Shields is an annual cyber defence exercise organised by NATO to train cyber response teams to defend against massive cyberattacks.   

In the exercise, the defenders have to set the defense lines of a complex infrastructure including various systems and applications that should withstand massive cyber-attacks executed by a large group of hackers.

Last year a Report published by Dr Edward Oughton from Oxford University claimed that a cyber-attack on London’s power grid alone could cost as much as £111 million per day and that even a small attack on our energy network would result in chaos for 1.5 million people. He said, “Critical national infrastructure such as smart electricity networks are susceptible to malicious cyber-attacks which could cause substantial power outages and cascading failure.”

Also late last year the US Government announced a surprising move to secure power grids by using “retro” technologies. That came after numerous attempts by foreign actors to launch cyber-attacks on Critical National Infrastructure (CNI).

Nations have been trying to secure the industrial control systems that power CNI for years. The challenge lies in the fact that these systems were not built with security in mind, because they were not originally meant to be connected to the Internet.

Siemens:       I-HLS:         Shenton Group:      Forbes:      Energy Live:   

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