Electricity, Gas and Water

Safeguard The Future Of Utilities Through Cybersecurity Resilience

Utility companies supply services (e.g., electricity, gas, and water) that are essential to people to go on with their lives. These organisations also manage delivery and the critical infrastructure required to provide them.

While utility companies can manage certain aspects of their critical responsibilities, thanks to advances in modern technology such as real-time data analytics and ‘smart grid’ technologies, the management of these services remains a complex challenge.

Populations to which they provide their services to are ever-growing, leading to increases in demand over time. At the same time, these companies must comply with both governmental and environmental regulations, while also balancing cost and supply.

Threats to Utility Companies

Unfortunately, as with many organisations leveraging the benefits of digital environments, there are many cyber threats facing utility companies.

In 2023, the Danish energy sector suffered an extensive cyber attack that came in three waves, which ultimately led to the control of critical infrastructure and related devices. Another notable consequence of this attack was the attackers were able to take over the critical infrastructure of utility companies and use it to launch targeted attacks on companies in other countries.

This is just one key example of how devastating an attack on utility companies can be. A successful cyber attack could have severe consequences that include service disruptions, economic losses and even threats to public safety.

Security is Imperative

Ensuring that the security of critical infrastructure remains robust to adversarial pressures in the utility sector is imperative to not only protect safety and reliability from minimising disruptions but also to protect the trust of public consumers, regulatory bodies, and stakeholders.

The energy domain, as one example within the utility sector, can be thought of as highly decentralised. While there are a few key players, there may be smaller operators or suppliers. Traditionally, an attack against one of these operators would not be considered critical for society. However, what if the same vulnerability in a device or its loaded software was present in many of these companies? This could easily be exploited and linked to other companies in the sector, which can lead to a large-scale attack – such as the one observed in Denmark.

With the increasing digitisation of many processes, as well as the interconnectivity of industrial control systems and even the companies that host them, the attack surface continually grows.