Vertical Markets

Energy webinar

by Mark Rowe

The cyber-security and COVID-19 challenges to the energy sector were the subjects for the first of two webinars, hosted by the European Network for Cyber Security (ENCS), Association of European Distribution System Operators (E.DSO), and the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E).

Cybersecurity figures from grid operators, public bodies and industry discussed actual and emerging threats, the most recent regulatory developments, and the main challenges connected to data sharing. The event heard that only with harmonization of efforts in the areas of security requirements, scoping for Information Security Management Systems and knowledge sharing, the rapidly increasing challenges can be managed.

In the opening session, Catharina Sikow-Magny, Director Internal Energy Market, DG ENER, highlighted the European Commission’s growing commitment to strengthen European Union leadership on digitalization and cyber-security, especially in the light of the energy transition and EU recovery, stating that “Access, trust and interoperability for data are the three pillars for information to flow in Europe. Cybersecurity is essential for a strong and sustainable energy system in Europe”.

Saâd Kadhi, Head of CERT-EU, European Commission, said: “The threat landscape is continuously evolving and the attack surface is growing. Several nation-state threat actors are very well resourced and some criminal groups are adopting their play-books. Targeted intrusions, ransomware attacks and other types of breaches are now customary. To keep them at bay, we have no choice but to share threat data, more efficiently and at a bigger scale, by building bridges across cybersecurity communities.”

For Nicolas Richet, Head of Digital Section, ENTSO-E Secretariat, “this third edition of our joint cybersecurity events with E.DSO and ENCS has allowed us to demonstrate the grid operators’ commitment and continued efforts to enhance the reliability of the European power network”.

Maarten Hoeve, Technology Director ENCS, spoke of how vulnerabilities in DER infrastructure can be exploited to disrupt electricity supply. The stability of the electricity grid is becoming dependent on distributed energy resources (DER), such as solar panels and windmills. Security incidents at DER installations could lead to large disruptions of the electricity grid, even to the extent of a European black-out.

Concluding, Roberto Zangrandi, Secretary General of E.DSO, said: “After three years now, our joint update with key stakeholder on Cybersecurity has become a beacon for the electricity grid operators. This meeting in particular, and the next one, proves that only through joint efforts hacking dangers can be and will be tackled.”

The event pointed to the importance of security across critical business processes, harmonization of the approaches throughout Europe and the need to act now. A webinar recording will be available soon on the E.DSO website.
A second webinar, focusing on the EU NIS Directive, Cybersecurity Act and Network Code Cybersecurity, will be taking place on 21 October. You can register here.

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