Power and utilities systems that connect organizations and homes are essential types of critical infrastructure—a realization that has not gone unnoticed by cyber criminals. A recent study shows that attacks against energy utilities are among the top three most targeted sectors for cyberattacks in the United States. In addition, Europe, Australia, and Japan have reported an increase in threats against critical infrastructure. The threat is global.
This threat is only exacerbated by the modernization of OT networks that control critical infrastructure. As OT and IT networks converge, the “air gap” that OT systems once relied on for cybersecurity is eliminated. Without traditional utility cybersecurity measures in place, these critical infrastructures are left at risk. The risk of a successful cyberattack on critical infrastructure could be severe—damaged power grids could leave cities in the dark, or even put lives at risk.
The good news is that power and utilities CEOs are not taking the risk of cyberattacks and damaged infrastructure lightly. A recent survey reveals that 48% of CEOs say an attack against critical infrastructure is imminent. Despite a shortage of skilled staff and resources, 59% of power and utilities CEOs report that cybersecurity specialists are the most critical new role within their organization. Fortinet solutions for power and utilities can lend support to lean security teams by providing integrated, automated protection across evolving OT and IT environments.
Securing Corporate Infrastructure
The corporate infrastructure of a power and utility houses important IT network services that help its various plants or facilities operate. The corporate IT network contains information such as the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, financial information, and supply chain and partner network access details, as well as information about its extensive physical structure—all of which is stored and relied upon for business decisions.
Given the amount of critical data stored on these networks, the corporate infrastructure needs a broad, integrated, and automated cybersecurity solution that can help implement true end-to-end integration. The Fortinet Security Fabric, backed by powerful FortiGate next-generation firewalls (NGFWs), enables the power and utility network to achieve integration across the entire infrastructure.
Security teams benefit from centralized management and workflow automation from FortiManager, while FortiAnalyzer works in tandem to support analytics-powered security and log management to deliver smarter breach detection.
In addition, power and utility companies with remote or branch offices can rely on FortiAP for secure wireless access. Keep track of all physical movement across locations as well with Fortinet network-based video security for instant visual surveillance with no licensing fees.
Securing Power Generation
This phase involves both highly valuable and centralized assets such as hydroelectric, nuclear, coal, or gas power plants, as well as distributed systems such as wind or solar farms. This unique infrastructure makes security more complex, and also more important, than ever before. Often, most power and utility companies share these similar challenges, including water and sewage treatment plants.
All of these power and utility systems are vulnerable to attacks aimed at causing service interruptions. Since the risk of outages or physical damage is potentially severe in these cases, comprehensive protection for both cyber and physical security of power and utilities plants is essential.
FortiGate next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) deliver network security and performance along with centralized visibility and control, allowing security teams to get a complete view of their infrastructure. In addition, they allow teams to leverage intent-based segmentation capabilities to implement consistent policies across dynamic network environments. FortiAuthenticator identity and access management leverages segmentation and uses FortiToken to grant access to users on a need-to-know basis. Similarly, FortiNAC network access control works to monitor and control network access of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices.
FortiManager delivers single-pane-of-glass management as well as reporting tools to easily meet compliance. FortiAnalyzer delivers analytics-powered security and log management for maximum visibility and better breach detection. Additionally, the FortiSIEM security information and event management solution provides automated response and remediation to help prevent breaches before they occur, and FortiSandbox uses advanced threat detection to combat previously unknown threats. FortiDeceptor uses automated deception technology to find and respond to both internal and external threats.
FortiSwitch delivers secure, scalable Ethernet solutions, and FortiPresence helps keep track of what smartphones are on the network and analyzes their behavior. Keep track of all physical movement across locations as well with Fortinet network-based video security from FortiCamera/FortiRecorder for instant visual surveillance with no licensing fees.
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As power plants transmit electricity via high-voltage transmission lines and other utilities send water and sewage through pipelines, these utilities span a broad physical range. In this scenario, the attack surface spans a wide geographical region that hosts these infrastructures.
In addition, power and utility companies are increasingly leveraging automated technology and processes to move energy around the grid safely, ensure steady and clean water supplies, and more, presenting more opportunities for cyberattackers. Power and utilities in this phase should work to ensure broad and integrated protection.
FortiGate next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) support active-passive high availability (HA) that provides seamless failover in the event of a network failure. Utilities can also leverage the built-in Secure SD-WAN capabilities within FortiGate to modernize their infrastructure from legacy multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) to direct internet access with robust networking performance and security in a single solution.
FortiSIEM delivers powerful security information and event management capabilities to deliver visibility, correlation, and automated threat response and remediation in a single, scalable solution. FortiAnalyzer uses analytics-powered security and log management to provide better detection against breaches.
Keep track of all physical movement across locations as well with Fortinet network-based video security from FortiCamera/FortiRecorder for instant visual surveillance with no licensing fees.
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Securing Distribution Systems
Distributing power and utilities services to users consists of a complex network of water and sewer mains, substations, and smart metering devices at the core of today’s system. This means that the attack surface now includes Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) devices for metering at nearly every building in a utility’s service area, along with hundreds of unstaffed substations that run autonomously. This phase requires both physical security for buildings and substations without staff along with critical cybersecurity to prevent cyberattacks.
FortiGate next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) deliver network security and performance along with visibility and control, allowing security teams to get a complete view of their infrastructure. In addition, FortiGate NGFWs deliver intent-based segmentation capabilities to implement consistent policies and threat protection wherever it is needed, both on-premises and in the cloud, to reduce risk, achieve compliance, and protect critical utility applications.
Built within FortiGate NGFWs are Secure SD-WAN capabilities, which power and utility companies can use to modernize their infrastructure, gaining direct internet access with strong application performance plus security in a single solution. In addition, Fortinet Secure SD-Branch enables distributed locations to combine security and network access, extending the reach of the Fortinet Security Fabric to the branch edge.
FortiNAC network access control provides full visibility of all IIoT devices on the utility network and complete control of the level of access granted to each. FortiSwitch offers secure, scalable Ethernet throughout the entire network.
FortiManager delivers unified, single-pane-of-glass management and reporting tools to easily meet compliance. FortiAnalyzer delivers analytics-powered security and log management for stronger breach detection. Additionally, the FortiSIEM security information and event management solution provides automated response and remediation to help prevent breaches before they occur.
Utilities can monitor physical movement across locations as well with Fortinet network-based video security from FortiCamera/FortiRecorder for instant visual surveillance with no licensing fees.
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Securing Customer Experience
Power and utility customers now expect streamlined communications for mobile applications, automated bill payments, and real-time metering information. In turn, these electronic channels are also the primary medium in which power and utility companies can communicate with customers to deliver instant information and updates about outages or situations that may pose risks to physical safety. Any outages or downtime to these systems as a result of a cyberattack detracts from a power and utility company’s reputation and reliability.
FortiGate next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) deliver network security and performance along with visibility and control, allowing teams to see a complete view of their infrastructure.
FortiNAC network access control provides full visibility of all Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices on the utility network and complete control of the level of access granted to each. FortiSwitch offers secure, scalable Ethernet throughout the entire network, and FortiPresence helps keep track of what smartphones are on the network and analyzes their behavior. In addition, utilities with remote or branch offices can rely on FortiAP for secure wireless access.
FortiManager delivers unified, single-pane-of-glass management and reporting tools to easily meet compliance. FortiAnalyzer delivers analytics-powered security and log management for stronger breach detection.
Key Power and Utilities Cybersecurity Challenges
Cybersecurity for Renewable Energy Infrastructures
Newer forms of power, such as renewable energy via solar or wind, are often less centralized. Not only does this create new challenges for distribution and storage but also for cybersecurity. Protection for these new network edges is essential.
Power and utilities facilities have physical machinery and processes that can cause physical injury if they malfunction. In the current threat landscape, cyber criminals can disrupt operations of critical infrastructure, creating safety issues for onsite employees and even nearby residents. In addition, disruptions to the generation, transmission, and distribution processes can also make power and utilities unsafe for consumers. Any of these eventualities would bring grave consequences to the organization, from lawsuits to the shutdown of operations by regulators. Cybersecurity and physical safety systems must be vigilant in preventing physical damage and cyber intrusions.
Productivity and Uptime
Cyberattacks on power and utility companies are often designed to cause delays and interruptions to operations, leaving organizations with significant financial damages. Along with interrupting business continuity, overall productivity is halted when IT and OT systems experience latency because of network inefficiency or cybersecurity events. The Ukraine power grid attack in December 2015 is one example of the risk of OT threats to citizens and to the reputation of service providers.
Lack of integration across the different security elements coupled with architectural fragmentation increases operational inefficiencies. Without integration across OT and IT environments, many security workflows must be managed manually, which both slows processes and creates room for human error. In addition to delaying threat detection, prevention, and responses, architectural silos create redundancies in management of applications and even in software and hardware licensing, thus increasing operational expenditure (OpEx) costs.
Delivering Customer Experience
Power and utility companies now engage with their customer base through a variety of electronic means. Security for electronic communications is critical, as a security breach could potentially expose sensitive and personal customer data.
Power and utilities are dedicated to providing consistent and uninterrupted service across particular geographies. Breaches or cyberattacks that result in power outages or downtime must be avoided to deliver uninterrupted service to users who rely on these critical infrastructures.
Power and utilities are subject to a wide variety of regulations and standards and are often subject to direct government oversight. While financial penalties for lapsing in compliance can be high, an even higher cost often comes from diminished brand reputation in the event of a breach or service interruption. Organizations must be able to demonstrate compliance with multiple regulations and standards without redeploying staff from strategic initiatives to prepare audit reports.
Learn More The power generation phase involves a complex combination of both critical centralized assets (e.g., nuclear, coal, or gas power plants) and distributed systems (e.g., wind or solar farms) that requires a combination of physical and cybersecurity.
Learn More Transmission via high-voltage power lines and water/sewage pipelines provide a broad physical attack surface. Many power and utility companies are increasingly leveraging automation to transport water and energy safely across physical space.
Learn More At the core of the modernized distribution system is a complex array of smart metering devices, water and sewer mains, and substations. A power and utility service region consists of IoT devices at most every building it serves, as well as a set of unattended substations.
Learn More Utility customers expect electronic services to interact with providers via online or mobile applications, automatic bill payment, and real-time metering information. In turn, utilities use these channels to communicate with users about outages and inform them of potential risk.
Fortinet Differentiators for Power and Utilities Cybersecurity
Fortinet delivers a complete, end-to-end, integrated security architecture across converging IT and OT environments. This gives security teams broad awareness of any device across the entire network. Greater visibility and control deliver contextual awareness of the whole environment to maintain trust and monitor east-west and north-south traffic.
Single Pane of Glass
Power and utilities organizations can consolidate complex networking environments, industrial control systems (ICS), industrial Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices like sensors and gauges with security, and surveillance functions all into a single pane of glass. A unified solution eliminates operational silos and helps teams achieve a complete scope of their security posture.
Fortinet ruggedized appliances are designed to protect critical infrastructure in even the harshest environments including extreme heat, cold, and electrical interference. Fortinet ruggedized appliances include a robust series of FortiGate next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) and FortiSwitch switches.
Insider Threat Prevention
Detect and prevent insider threats and both malicious and unintentional insider data leaks with user and entity behavior analytics from FortiInsight. Intent-based segmentation allows teams to intelligently segment the network to quickly detect and isolate threats, while FortiDeceptor provides automated detection and response to both external and internal threats.
Proactive Threat Intelligence
With more than 15 years working with various power and utilities customers, Fortinet has collected robust threat intelligence specific to ICS. By leveraging this threat intelligence, Fortinet has demonstrated leadership in the critical infrastructure space by publishing the first OT-specific security trends report earlier this year.
The Fortinet team is comprised of security experts and advisors with specific hands-on experience in securing OT systems. Teams responsible for securing critical infrastructure can rest assured that they not only are implementing industry-leading technologies but also are backed by industry experts with more than 30 years of experience.
Robust Partner Ecosystem
Fortinet is part of the largest ecosystem of strategic partners specializing in OT by provision integration through application programming interfaces (APIs) and Fabric-Ready APIs. With Fortinet Fabric-Ready Partners, security teams can seamlessly and exponentially expand upon Fortinet offerings with tools that are tightly integrated into the Fortinet Security Fabric.
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- Learn how to secure OT in the energy and utilities sector.
- Find out why visibility is essential for effective OT security.
- Understand how to secure the industrial Internet of Things in OT networks.
- Read about the need for a unified security strategy for converging IT/OT environments.