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The increasing cyber security threat and COVID-19 are causing challenges everywhere, including in the energy sector. The European Network for Cyber Security (ENCS), the Association of European Distribution System Operators (E.DSO), and the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), hosted the first of two webinars to discuss some of these challenges.

‘Cybersecurity: Data Sharing’ webinar

Renowned cyber security experts from the grid operator community, public organizations and industry discussed actual and emerging threats, the most recent regulatory developments, and the main challenges connected to data sharing.

It was concluded that only with harmonization of efforts in the areas of security requirements, scoping for information security management systems and knowledge sharing, the rapidly increasing challenges can be managed.

Access, trust and interoperability for data

In the opening keynote session, Ms. Catharina Sikow, Director Internal Energy Market, DG ENER, highlighted European Commission's growing commitment to strengthen EU's leadership on digitalization and cyber security, especially in the light of the energy transition and EU recovery, stating that “Access, trust and interoperability for data are the three pillars for information to flow in Europe. Cyber security is essential for a strong & sustainable energy system in Europe.”

Saad Kadhi, Head of CERT-EU, European Commission, highlighted that “The threat landscape is continuously evolving and the attack surface is growing. Several nation-state threat actors are very well resourced and some criminal groups are adopting their playbooks.

Need to share threat data more efficiently

Targeted intrusions, ransom-ware attacks and other types of breaches are now customary"

Saad adds, “Targeted intrusions, ransom-ware attacks and other types of breaches are now customary. To keep them at bay, we have no choice but to share threat data, more efficiently and at a bigger scale, by building bridges across cyber security communities.

Nicolas Richet, Head of Digital Section, ENTSO-E Secretariat, said “This third edition of our joint cyber security events with E.DSO and ENCS has allowed us to demonstrate the grid operators’ commitment and continued efforts to enhance the reliability of the European power network.

Deterring security incidents at DER installations

Maarten Hoeve, Technology Director at the European Network for Cyber Security (ENCS), presented how vulnerabilities in DER infrastructure can be exploited to disrupt electricity supply. He said, “The stability of the electricity grid is becoming dependent on distributed energy resources (DER), such as solar panels and windmills. Security incidents at DER installations could lead to large disruptions of the electricity grid, even to the extent of a European black-out.

Concluding the event, Roberto Zangrandi, Secretary General of the Association of European Distribution System Operators (E.DSO), said “After 3 years now, our joint update with key stakeholders on Cybersecurity has become a beacon for the electricity grid operators. This meeting in particular, and the next one, proves that only through joint efforts hacking dangers can be and will be tackled.

The event highlighted the importance of security across critical business processes, harmonization of the approaches throughout Europe and the need to act now.

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