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Critical infrastructure providers must prioritize secure networking to meet clean energy goals – Fortinet

How can electric utilities step up to support the growing usage of renewable energy and help the country achieve its clean power targets? 

Climate change is no longer just a looming threat but a stark reality affecting communities worldwide. Governments and organizations globally are taking action to minimize carbon emissions and address the crisis.  

In the Philippines, the government has committed to reducing emissions by 75 percent by 2030, in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. To achieve this goal, the country has introduced the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) 2020-2040, which aims to increase the power generation share of renewable energy from 22.8 percent to 35 percent by 2030 and up to 50 percent by 2040. But how can electric utilities step up to support the growing usage of renewable energy and help the country achieve its clean power targets? 

Significance of advanced networking for the energy industry 

Advanced networking capabilities are vital to enable a modern power grid. Such networks are required to support an energy company’s IT and operational technology (OT) components to allow the grids to collect and transport electricity in real time from different energy sources, which include wind and solar farms, hydropower plants, and many more.  

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Other than that, these networks are also critical to enable ongoing, two-way communication while supporting automated processes to track the use of electricity and the status of the systems at various physical locations. 

Critical infrastructure as an attractive target 

However, critical infrastructures, like energy utilities, are appealing targets for cybercriminals. Successful attacks on this sector can have a widespread impact and affect vital services, which can disrupt businesses, education, and healthcare, among others. 

Over the years, these attacks have been increasing. According to a 2022 study published by Microsoft, nation-state attacks alone on critical infrastructures grew from 20 percent to 40 percent during July 2020 to June 2021 to July 2021 to June 2022 timeframes, respectively.  

Securing the sector with a zero-trust approach 

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Using effective cybersecurity solutions is essential to secure critical infrastructures from cyberattacks. However, when OT networks are modernized, deploying security is a challenge. With the convergence of OT and IT networks, the air gap that OT systems depend on to keep strong security ceases to exist. This leaves this sector vulnerable to attacks. 

“To safeguard critical infrastructures, organizations can implement a zero-trust approach to cybersecurity. This strategic approach’s philosophy is to verify first every user’s identity and only provide access based on what is known about them. But companies must also consider how this approach will affect users to maintain seamless experience and productivity,” said Peerapong Jongvibool, Regional Director of Fortinet Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. 

Securing critical infrastructure is essential to maintain vital services every day and ensure it is protected from cyberattacks that can impede its operations. 

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