Historically, cybersecurity has taken a backseat to other utility operation priorities. Those days are over. Citing a GlobalData report titled “Thematic Research: Cybersecurity in Power,” Power Technology reports that cybersecurity has catapulted to the top of the priority list for many of those utilities. And for good reason—the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) found that some 25% of all power utilities were exposed during 2020’s SolarWinds hack.

We know that hackers’ attempts at infiltrating secured networks are getting smarter and more elaborate. Many utilities find themselves vulnerable to attack. But, why should utility companies care? In today’s post, we’ll look closer at cybersecurity’s place in utility operations. We will also highlight how utilities are using a popular software solution to protect their networks from fraudsters.

The digital transformation prompted the need for better cybersecurity

Why has the utility industry been slower than others to develop cybersecurity strategies? Well, until fairly recently, it wasn’t really necessary. That change occurred with the advent of the digital transformation. Utilities have replaced an assortment of legacy equipment, modernizing these assets with smart functionality and internet-connected devices. With the rise in renewable energy, utilities are turning to digital technology to help distribute wind and solar energy. This is in addition to smart meters used to monitor and track usage.

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How prepared are utilities for an attack?

The digital transformations put in place have allowed utilities to better serve customers, save money and help the environment. The bad news is that not everyone is prepared for what it takes to protect a digital environment. A recent report by Siemens and the Ponemon Institute uncovered that 54% of global utilities surveyed expected to encounter an operational technology attack within 12 months of receiving the question. Interestingly, only 42% would rate their own readiness for such an attack as high.

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What can utilities do to ready the organization?

The first step in a utility’s cybersecurity plan is to hire the right people to develop and oversee the strategy. But as an executive from Siemens wrote for the World Economic Forum, there is an unfortunate shortage of personnel trained to develop and analyze operational technology cybersecurity. That means that utilities may need to take things into their own hands and either train their best current employees or contract with a third party that can help.

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Tools to enhance cybersecurity efforts

From increasing efficiency, improving arrival times, and reducing error rates, field service software is one of the most valuable tech tools that a utility can add to its digital arsenal. Not only is a solution like what EnSight+ offers hosted in the cloud so technicians in the field can access pertinent information from anywhere, but the software also has comprehensive data security measures.

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The EnSight+ solution features SAML 2.0 integration to support single sign-on. There’s also two-factor authentication and custom permissions to ensure that the people logging into your system are those you want in there. EnSight+ can even offer its expertise to utilities looking for help with data security training through a collaborative training program.

Interested in learning more about how EnSight+ can keep your utility’s data safe? Book your demo today.

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