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Energy Companies Need to Protect the Network Edge

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Paul Korzeniowski's picture
B2B Content producer, Self-employed

Paul is a seasoned (basically old) freelance B2B content producer. Through the years, he has written more than 10,000 items (blogs, news stories, white papers, case studies, press releases and...

  • Member since 2011
  • 1,593 items added with 565,347 views
  • Aug 14, 2023

Energy companies are embracing edge technology because it enables them to reduce network traffic and boost device performance. The emerging technology is also garnering interest from hackers because many of these systems are insecure. Utilities need to be aware of the threats and put proper checks in place to protect confidential information.

Edge computing moves processing functions from central data servers closer to end devices. This design is well suited to mobile applications. Increasingly, energy companies rely on it to monitor grid and plant device performance.

Hackers Breach Edge Systems

Criminals noticed the change. Malware-related cyber-threats in edge environments jumped tenfold in the first six months of 2023, according to Nazomi Networks.

The bad guys are attacking these systems for a few reasons. One is their growing deployments, which means they offer more potential targets for them to attack.

Also, many edge applications rely on Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Here, vendors add intelligence to traditionally dumb devices, like sensors and SCADA systems. These products are vulnerable because they were built many years ago and not designed to account for the problems evident in today’s connected world.

 In addition, the staff that monitor these systems are familiar with industrial equipment only and do not understand the nuances found in Information Technology systems.

Also, many energy companies misunderstand or view these threats as less significant than a conventional enterprise network attack. However, the edge relies on the TCP/IP protocol that moves energy company information.

The Impact of Edge System Attacks

Edge attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and severely threaten corporate network integrity, data security, and even physical equipment.

Security unfortunately often is an afterthought in edge developments. Consequently, these systems have many potential security vulnerabilities, like weak passwords, poor or non-existent default security settings, a lack of encryption, and limited (or again non-existent) device management. The bad guys use default credentials in attempts to access chained IoT devices. Once inside, they rely on Trojans, “dual use” malware, ransomware, and phishing exploits to worm their way into energy network systems.

Therefore, energy companies need to protect themselves. Awareness is the first step in the process. Next, they need to audit their edge applications, identify potential vulnerabilities, and take steps to ensure that their transmissions are closed from end to end.

Edge computing is becoming more popular as energy company assets become more dispersed. Many of these systems are insecure. Consequently, energy companies need to be proactive, recognize the threat, and then protect themselves.


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