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Energy Industry Concerned About Security

Within the last year, the security element of many industries has been debated, trialled and at times compromised; there was the NHS ransomware attack a few months ago, and the DDoS attack in 2016, which hit many big companies and effectively disrupted their services.

The latest industry to express concern over security and take precautions is the energy industry: particularly following the big-scale Ukrainian attack that targeted banks and power companies in late June.

The concerns grow not only from the smart meter initiative that Dashboard very recently talked about, but the trend of new systems. Where previously most companies (and indeed consumers) favoured large, centralised networks protected by their sheer size, today sees many choosing small, independent energy solutions instead. These small, independent options such as gas power plants or solar panels, do not have the same security measures, thus the infrastructure of energy supply is creating a gap in security.

The reason bigger networks are safer is the investment that the provider puts into development and testing. Their centralised system creates a large grid that is difficult to disrupt anything more than small, regional problems. Independent solutions, on the other hand, can be subjected to many weaknesses due to the simplicity of the data and the lack of appropriate knowledge to recognise an attack in the system soon enough.

According to Michael Shalyt, a highly regarded industry specialist, the consequences of an energy-focused attack would be drastic: “A future attack that aims to cripple normal operations might be destructive in nature – and not only disruptive. A somewhat sophisticated attacker can cause physical damage to equipment and product – by giving commands to industrial equipment that puts the process in a damaging state and forging the reported physical state. Such an attack can shut down operations for months – not only days.”

This statement highlights how important it is for managing parties of energy sources to secure them and avoid even minor breaches at all costs. Small threats can easily become bigger in no time, which is why Dashboard would like to emphasise the importance of protecting energy structures, especially since infrastructure based organisations and systems are often seen as easy targets.