In the second of our ‘Taming the Big Four’ blog series, which looks at four key challenges facing power distributors, Marco Berger, ECI’s Head of Critical Infrastructure Solutions, unlocks the door on security.
Challenge #2: Security: how secure does secure have to be?
Let’s be honest, cyber security, or rather the lack of it, has damaged a fair few corporate reputations. We can each probably think of one or two major breaches in the last few years that have caught the power utilities industry napping. Breaches that, with even a slight shift in thinking or approach, most likely could have been prevented.
In the first of our ‘Taming the Big Four’ blog series, we look at four key challenges facing power distributors.
Last week ECI participated once again in the annual UTC Telecoms and Technology 2017 event held in Charlotte. It was a great opportunity to meet the industry, participate in discussions, and get a feel for where we can support changing needs. There is no doubt that the industry is undergoing change, as was apparent by the dense content in several different content streams. For anyone who missed it or for those that want to validate your own point of view from the event, here are my key takeaways from this excellent event.
Over 200 years ago, Richard Trevithick developed the first high-pressured steam locomotive and used it to haul a train along the Penydarren tramway. Just 15 years later Stephensons’s Rocket won the Rainhill Trials and became the template for most rail transportation for the next 150 years. Anyone still around from those days would probably find today’s rail infrastructure very familiar, with locomotives still hauling trains over standard gauge metal rails.
For those that don’t know SGTech, it is a conference focused on power companies, both distribution (DSOs) and energy transmission (TSOs). The conference focuses on how these companies can move to embrace the smart grid with substation automation, SCADA, control room technology, smart meters and telecommunications.
We are living in an era of instant communication and gratification. And, while daily life seems to be going faster and faster, the road systems seem to be moving slower and slower. I waste hours on the road in bumper to bumper traffic, listening to the radio… growing increasingly frustrated. I continue listening to the radio hoping to learn why traffic is delayed. By the time the report finally comes, it is clear that the news is old and no longer correct. I am further frustrated. Sound familiar?
Mission critical industries are the ones responsible for everything in our daily life we take for granted. When we turn on the tap, we expect clean water to come out of it; when we switch on the light, we expect it to work; and when we board the train, we expect it to be on time and travel seamlessly to our destination. And usually we never stop to think about what powers these essential functions.
The recent power outages in the Ukrainian city of Ivano-Frankivsk have become a subject of global concern. The outages, which were caused by targeted cyber attacks on two major power suppliers in the region, were implemented via malware smuggled into their industrial control systems (ICS).
One answer of course is - A current event! (Sorry, about that. Can't help myself)
A less funny and far more serious answer is that a power failure is a critical event on the part of an energy supplier's mission critical network. This kind of failure, which impedes full monitoring and control, can be prevented with the right network solution behind it.
Last week, South Africa’s Energy Utility and the EUTC (European Utility Telecoms Council) organized a conference for utilities in Africa. EUTC Africa was held at the Eskom University, the training campus of the utility Eskom. The campus is close to Midrand, about halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria. About 180 experts, mainly from Eskom, gathered for two days to discuss the challenges around smart grids and smart meters.