Cybersecurity in electricity industry
The need for secure interconnection
Wind, solar, hydroelectric, nuclear, fossil fuels, etc.: the ways of producing energy may differ, yet electricity suppliers and distributors face the same challenge: to continue to interconnect their networks, while ensuring security for all.
Electricity generation and distribution are critical activities that pose significant human, economic and environmental risks in case of failure. Without electricity, how many vital infrastructures would be stopped dead in their tracks? How many sensitive buildings would be rendered inaccessible or uncontrollable? And how much equipment would be seriously damaged by a blackout?
These examples show how sensitive our dependence on electricity is, especially in vital areas of activity. This is especially true since the safety of many facilities could be compromised in the event of an accident, or if the reaction time is too long. Electrical infrastructures are even more different from traditional IT environments, as they are located in physical environments with significant constraints, not least because of electromagnetic waves.
Often composed of several remote sites (production plants, dams, distribution network, meters, etc.), electrical infrastructures must ensure that sensitive and potentially confidential information exchanged between sites (information gathering, network regulation commands, etc.) is neither altered nor intercepted.
However, this geographical distribution is based on several production centres and a fragmented distribution network with countless sensors and PLCs. This architecture often requires remote maintenance, either on a scheduled basis or as a rapid reaction to an incident. However, this type of network and building is sometimes several decades old, as interruptions to the service for the purpose of hardware upgrades are problematic. Finally, many service providers work on these networks, not all of whom have the same level of confidence, awareness and/or equipment in terms of cyber risk.
The challenges of the electrical industry call for the most stringent regulations. At the French level, many players in the sector are classified as Operators of Vital Importance (OIVs) and must comply with the requirements of France’s Military Planning Law (LPM). This list of players is expanding at European level, with operators of essential services (OESs) being required to follow the recommendations of the Network and Information Security (NIS) directive. For more information, see our ebook on these regulatory issues.
In order to continue to meet electricity demand under all circumstances, companies in the sector must be able to rely on secure communication networks. This will enable them to ensure the authentication, confidentiality and integrity of the data processed, and also to provide secure remote access to their technicians and third-party service providers.
At the same time, the electrical industry must prevent attacks on OT network components and control stations. This includes the installation of security elements in close physical proximity to the equipment to be protected without an IT rack, in physical environments as constrained as an electric dam or a nuclear power plant.
Finally, live system support and security maintenance (MCO/MCS) makes it possible to extend the life of the infrastructure. In response to each of these needs, Stormshield provides a suitable, reliable and scalable solution.
Our range of Stormshield Network Security (SNS) firewalls offer you the ultimate in network protection with high availability through their bypass features and intrusion prevention system (IPS). Our solution lets you change WAN access links according to their availability; segment your networks; take advantage of in-depth and contextual analysis of standard (IEC 61850 – MMS, Goose, SV – or IEC 104) and proprietary industrial protocols. The SNS range also offers granular control over authorised messages and control of operational values through the implementation of custom patterns.
Finally, in response to the constraints of the electrical sector, our industrial firewalls are hardened and can be easily mounted in your cabinets.
Do you need multiple distributed protection solutions? Our Stormshield Management Center (SMC) centralised management solution allows you to manage them all from the same administration server. This saves time and reduces configuration errors. And in addition, our Stormshield Log Supervisor (SLS) log management solution allows you to view the status and logs of your entire IT network at a glance.
When you choose Stormshield, you're getting access to solutions that are certified and qualified to the highest European level. These recognitions obtained in Europe and worldwide ensure a level of protection that is tailored to the strategic and sensitive information held by players in the electrical industry. They also enable SNS firewalls to satisfy the requirements of the French Military Planning Law.
To maintain this level of protection and trust, Stormshield products are subject to a continuous enhancement process. Thanks to this approach based on robustness and reliability, we remain in line with the evolving standards defined by agencies such as ANSSI in France, CCN in Spain and BSI in Germany.
With Stormshield, give your business cyber-serenity. Our teams remain at your disposal to identify the needs of your electricity production network and provide you with the most effective solutions.