Power plant operators, electric cooperatives, IOUs, and public power utilities need to monitor their equipment health to ensure they are bringing the most reliable, efficient and affordable electricity to their household and business customers. However, they have long been the target of cyber attackers who seek to disrupt the energy sector supply chain. Today, electric utilities and power plants count on Fend’s data diode technology for real-time data and security that guards the grid to keep our power and economy going. Data diodes are a type of cybersecurity hardware that protects networks and other infrastructure by only allowing the data to flow in one direction.
Challenges Faced by Utilities in Network Security
What are the cybersecurity threats to utilities?
Utilities face numerous cybersecurity threats, including ransomware attacks that disrupt services and demand payment, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that overwhelm systems, and advanced persistent threats (APTs) that target utilities with the intent of stealing sensitive information, disrupting services, or causing physical damage to infrastructure.
Software and hardware vulnerabilities, if not regularly updated and patched, can also leave utilities vulnerable to cyberattacks. As the threat landscape evolves and cybercriminals become more sophisticated, utilities must remain vigilant in protecting their systems and data, which is why utility cybersecurity should be a top priority for your operations.
Why is cybersecurity important for electric utilities?
Cybersecurity is crucial for electric utilities because you control the critical generation, transmission, and distribution infrastructure that supports our modern way of life. If any of these systems are disrupted or damaged due to a cyberattack, it could have devastating consequences. Successful attacks could result in data theft, service disruptions, and significant financial losses.
The increasing connectivity of devices provides more opportunities for cybercriminals to attack utilities. With this increased risk, cyber security for industrial control systems is necessary to safeguard critical infrastructure, protect public safety, and secure sensitive information from cyber threats. This can be achieved through Fend’s data diodes.
Case Study - Data Diode Solution in Action
In 2021, unexpected cold weather impacted the ability of a power generation facility in the southern US to reliably deliver electricity to thousands of customers when a critical operations piping system froze. Extreme low temperatures impacted water piping infrastructure that the power producer relied on for electric generation, destabilizing power production and posing risks to plant operations and safety. Today, the company trusts Fend’s one-way data diodes to send real-time information from previously isolated water systems to the power plant’s industrial control system (ICS) to enable plant operators to mitigate risks to the system as well as gain efficiencies through predictive maintenance. The client was able to safely integrate the operational data into its ICS while reducing threat vectors. With Fend, the client now has the real-time analytics they need to prevent operational disruption from climate impacts or 3rd party attacks and predict problems before they occur to keep the power flowing.
Benefits of Using Data Diodes for Utilities
For many years, one-way communication diodes (data diodes) were priced too high for energy suppliers. Now, the same class of technology that protects nuclear reactors and oil refineries is affordable for renewable, coal, gas and hydro-electric plants and the rest of the supply chain, allowing real-time analytics that protect the electrical grid, operational networks, and assets from climate impact and attackers. Whether you’re making upgrades to winterize your plant, improve visibility, or comply with regulations, Fend data diodes add an extra layer of physical security that blocks 100% of all inbound traffic and requires no security patches or maintenance, offering the same level of security as a physical air gap for remote access without the vulnerabilities.
Fend’s unidirectional gateway hardware physically protects you from cyberattack. Fend diodes feature:
All supported protocols are included with the purchase. No hidden fees or licenses.
No need for custom external servers or software.
Built from the ground up as a cost-effective solution for monitoring industrial equipment.
Made in the USA.
Fend data diodes come equipped with onboard protocol support for common industrial and IT protocols like Modbus, FTP, and TCP/IP. Setting up a diode is as easy as logging in to the Fend Configuration Tool, selecting your protocols, entering some basic information. It takes minutes!
The US Department of Homeland Security recommends the use of data diodes for the protection of energy infrastructure. In some sectors, like nuclear energy, use of data diodes is required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Fend's data diodes are an easy-to-deploy and cost-effective way to both comply with requirements and improve security.
The Next Level of Cyber Security for Utilities with Fend’s Data Diodes
Electric utilities and power plants count on Fend’s data diode technology. Whether you’re making upgrades to improve visibility or comply with regulations, Fend data diodes add an extra layer of physical cyber security for industrial control systems that blocks 100% of all inbound traffic and requires no security patches or maintenance, offering the same level of security as a physical air gap for remote access without the vulnerabilities.
Cybersecurity Support for Electric Cooperatives
Electric cooperatives power over 50% of the USA and work day and night to bring reliable, affordable power to their members. An increasingly complex challenge to this mission is the persistent threat of cyberattacks on generation, transmission, and distribution assets as well as the networks co-ops rely upon to oversee operations. Thankfully, there’s help. With support from a broad network of experts across the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, member co-ops can get the training and technology the need to achieve their mission. Fend’s products are made in the USA, affordable, and easy to install. Fend is here to physically block cyberattacks on substations, power plants, and other infrastructure and ensure co-ops get the operational visibility the need and the cybersecurity they deserve.
Accelerating Achievement of the NRECA Co-Op Cyber Goals
NRECA established a set of 10 Cyber Goals for its members? Fend is here to not only help you meet Goal #8 (IT/OT Segmentation) but also to bring together partners and resources to help you achieve all 10. These goals, shown below, are just the beginning. Once you tackle these, your co-op will be well positioned to mitigate threats and minimize the impact of cyberattacks.
10 Co-op Cyber Goals:
Goal 1: Establish a Cybersecurity Point of Contact
Goal 2: Self-Assessment
Goal 3: Contract Review
Goal 4: Multi-Factor Authentication
Goal 5: Default Password Policy
Goal 6: Leadership Training
Goal 7: Employee Training
Goal 8: IT/OT Segmentation
Goal 9: Cyber Incident Response Plan
Goal 10: Data Backups
Learn more about the Co-op Cyber Goals program by visiting https://www.cooperative.com/programs-services/bts/rc3/cyber-goals/Pages/default.aspx.
ICS REC: Enhancing Cybersecurity Across Co-Ops and Defense Critical Electric Infrastructure (DCEI)
The US Department of Energy has made some $15 million in grants available to electric cooperatives to enhance cybersecurity and deploy mitigation technologies to protect key infrastructure from attack. Participants in the program can request funding, get assistance from NRECA, and learn more about innovative solutions from leading solution providers at https://cooperative.com/ics-rec.
How Fend Can Help
Whether you need better access to real time asset performance data or insight into the health of your networks, Fend gets data into your hand while physically blocking access to your most critical of assets. Our one-way communication diodes maintain the security of a physical air gap while transmitting the data you might only otherwise be able to get via a truck roll or via methods that leave an opening for attackers to get in (such as a misconfigured firewall or unpatched security software). Fend is trusted across the country in sectors such as energy, water, manufacturing, and defense (links to case studies). You can learn more about our work in electric generation and other industries and download case studies here.
Need more information? Visit our products page for specifications and pricing! Fend’s hardware and optional cloud services are available for direct purchase or through our trusted partners. We look forward to hearing from you, so contact us today.