Do you have gaps in your cyber security?

Do you have gaps in your cyber security?

Utilities are frequently spread too thin to cover their security gaps.

Keeping the lights on

Keeping the lights on

Security trends in energy and utilities from the IBM Security X-Force research team.

Best practices for your SIOC

Best practices for your SIOC

Join IBM experts to discuss best practices for your security operations center.

The unrelenting high cost of a data breach

The Ponemon Institute’s 2017 Cost of a Data Breach study.

Defend against a malware meltdown

Discover why protecting your nuclear power system is as vital as securing your grid.

Meet the expert
Alden Hutchison

Alden Hutchison
Associate Partner - Security Intelligence & Operations (SIOC)

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Explore the catalog of IBM Security solutions

Learn more about IBM® QRadar®, IBM BigFix® and IBM Watson® for Cyber Security in IBM Marketplace.

10 grid security considerations for utilities

What's your plan for green energy? Integrating renewable energy into the electrical grid requires better distributed sensing and computing, precision 4D weather prediction and more. This alone is cause for additional grid security concern, because the attack profile will grow larger, be more distributed and be less under the utility’s direct control.

Utility networks typically have many soft targets requiring authentication and application security. Think about network security as a set of locks and alarms rather than a gateway.

Utilities have always operated in partnership with state, local and national government, with strong regulatory and compliance mandates. Expect increasing cyber security requirements in partnership with regulators—and stay on top of them.

Utilities have always operated in partnership with state, local and national government, with strong regulatory and compliance mandates. Expect increasing cyber security requirements in partnership with regulators—and stay on top of them.

The smart grid is built on the Internet of Things (IoT)—sensors throughout the grid. The problem? Those sensors are potential attack vectors. And the more sensors you have, the more sensors you need to trust. New approaches like trust brokers might be required as utilities incorporate sensors and data from outside their traditional SCADA systems.

Utilities and their critical infrastructure require an identity and access management architecture that moves beyond simple passwords. Truly effective security requires password expiration, integrated revocation, logon event alerts and, for extreme sectors such as nuclear, physical tokens. And coming soon? Blockchain for added verification and security.

As utilities deploy multiple smarter systems, coordination between these systems becomes critical for risk management and security. Uncoordinated intelligent systems can do things that are locally correct but contribute to a system-wide failure. Examine all your systems with an integrated perspective so you're not surprised with bad news.

With so many APIs and cloud services being deployed by utilities, IT professionals need to carefully scrutinize the security posture of the software and cloud services being used. Consider the layers of internet isolation and obfuscation in cloud internal networks, look at infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and hybrid cloud, investigate internal managed security services (MSS) and think of cloud resiliency as a reduction of cyberthreats.

Cybersecurity is cool, but physical security remains key in an asset-intensive industry like energy and utilities. Think about how to supplement your physical security staff and procedures with cognitive computing’s visual recognition capabilities.

Keep in mind the dynamic nature of your utility's supply chain. Threats change. And responses should be re-evaluated often so that each department—IT, security, purchasing—understands who's responsible for what. In other words, regularly review all those accountable for maintaining the trust chain for your utility.

More sensor data is good—unless it is attacked between the field and the analytics. Bad data influencing operator actions on critical systems can also cause problems. For sensor data, improved algorithms and analytics can help with detection. Think of security as another dimension of the asset. And better training, combined with error-detection tools for code development, can help keep your risk profile low.