Protecting the Energy of the Future

Over the past decade, guarding against cyber-attacks has become one of the most critical issues for the energy sector. With the growing sophistication of hackers and the number of attacks on the rise, there needs to be faster progress on the security front.

All around us there are increasing threats to power plants, smart devices, connected grids and infrastructure and even the electricity in our home. In response, at the end of 2017 we launched “Cyber Ventures” as a new focus area for the innogy Innovation Hub. We are determined to foster next level cyber security solutions to fight the hackers and prevent them from causing blackouts – not just today, but in the interconnected energy world of the future.

By looking at the current and emerging architecture of energy systems and analysing key features and integrated technologies, we can envision the future. We invest in and support the work of trendsetters and experts, bringing next-level cyber security tech to those who know the energy system inside out. Together we’re able to gain a competitive advantage against the attackers looking to turn off the lights.

One of the hot spots for Cyber Ventures is Israel. See below a selection of Israel-based cyber security start-ups we have invested in:

FirstPoint Mobile Guard

FirstPoint is a leading developer of mobile cyber-security solutions. In short, they protect the mobile phones of organisations against network-based attacks. While FirstPoint builds cyber-security solutions for mobile phones, their core technology is capable of protecting IoT communications across any network - exactly what our future energy system needs.

One of the major transformations in the energy industry is the move from the centralised electricity generation in huge power plants, to a decentralised production “at the edges”, found in sporadic wind parks, on millions of residential rooftops and in all sorts of microgrids, all of which are interconnected and digitised. This decentralised network is a playground for cyber-attackers, and traditional methods such as legacy firewalls and VPNs are not able to protect it. Instead, each instance of peer-to-peer communication needs protecting, especially between remote smart devices.

SegaSec

Segasec focuses on eliminating the problem of digital risk for businesses and their customers by providing an end to end solution that mitigates the risk of consumer phishing scams.

In order to understand how we believe the solution meets the future needs of the industry, we need to look at the direction we’re moving in.

Today, energy retailers sell electricity and gas to end customers. But just like in the telecommunications industry, energy providers will break out of the “dumb pipes” role, and eventually disrupt their own business. The energy company of the future will not stop at the meter in our front yard. It will provide a wide variety of products to run inside our homes, not only physical but also data and cloud services, software and applications, offering information and automation, covering anything that relies on the energy we use. In the future, energy retail will become a real competitive advantage and consumer play.

Since the future of our retail business is consumer products, digital risk technologies aimed at protecting customers are a core cyber-security need.

Looking ahead

As for what’s on the horizon for energy cyber security in 2019, we can expect further regulatory developments as the EU Cybersecurity Act is rolled out. This aims to promote individuals’ trust in the European digital single market. We should also see new efforts to bulk up cyber security as part of the EU’s Clean Energy Package, which seeks to help energy markets include more renewables, empower consumers and better manage energy flows across the EU.

But the wait-and-see approach to cyber security would be a foolish one. In the age of interconnected information and disruptive new technologies, the harmonisation of grid security requirements is key, as is action to protect future energy systems through next-generation solutions.

The rest of the year looks set to take the innogy Innovation Hub to the next level, with some exciting cyber security ventures in the pipeline. We have taken those all important first steps and are now ready to scale.

Has this made you curious? Get in contact with us. We are always looking for partners joining us on our journey to build the secure energy system of the future.

Photo: RWE Image Database

Boaz Kantor

CTO at innogy Innovation Center, Israel.

boaz.kantor@innogy.com

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