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Utilities: Industrial networks need IT security


April 16, 2019 - 2 Comments

There are plenty of historic and technological reasons why utilities’ industrial networks have been disconnected from their enterprise IT networks. As utilities continue to plan for and invest in new infrastructure for the coming decades, they have a critical opportunity to transform their networks.

Across the industry, the goal is to future-proof a utility’s infrastructure – both in terms of how it can adapt and scale to meet changing needs and how it can be secured against the growing array of cyber threats. Cyberattacks were not a concern when the legacy infrastructure was designed and deployed. Today, however, managing security risks is increasingly crucial as utilities become more frequent targets of cyberattacks aimed at disruption – or full takedown – of the grid.

Consider that every device on an industrial network represents a potential point of entry and vulnerability. When a utility’s industrial network is managed by local network operators, it doesn’t benefit from the cyber-security expertise of that utility’s IT team. That leaves the utility – and its customers – exposed.

The architecture of next-generation infrastructure – including implementing a unified, IP-based network – will be key to becoming more adaptable and more secure.

Going from 0% to 100% visibility

Turku Energia, which provides heat and power generation for some 200,000 citizens in its region of Finland, recognized that a cyberattack could be devastating. Turku Energia’s leaders made the strategic decision to unify the utility’s networks – and worked with Cisco to make it happen.

“Cybersecurity is getting increasingly more important in the utility industry. Previously, we had almost zero visibility on the network controlling the power grid; it fundamentally operated as a separate component,” says Antti Nieminen, Group Manager, Substations and Automation at Turku Energia.

Following the network transformation, Turku Energia is benefiting from industrial networking that can stand up to harsh environmental conditions, as well as network security that is driving visibility and rapid threat detection, data integrity, and role-based access from any location. It also has centralized management across IT and OT networks, which is saving the utility time and money on maintenance and staffing costs.

“We are now safe in the knowledge we have an efficient, simple to operate, and most importantly, a secure network running our grid, power stations, and substations,” says Nieminen. “With this network transformation, we feel Turku Energia is leading the way in the utility sector.”

Get the full details on how this utility made it happen—and how your organization can unify its IT and OT networks, too.

Click here to learn more about Cisco IoT solutions.



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2 Comments

  1. Samuel. Great message on how the IT/OT convergence is redefining Utilities' operational efficiency and safety. Glad to see Cisco leading in the IIoT (networking) space and driving strong value creation. Marco

  2. Since I'm a citizen living in this area I'm very happy to hear that Turku Energia has take actions to secure their environment.
    Visibility and security (provided by visibility) is the key for in today's IT environments since threats are focusing more and more on infrastructure.