Networks are both a source of strength and weakness for utility companies. The network is like a circulatory system with vital data flowing through it. Data flows from connected devices in the field and user endpoints to the company data center, transmitting information about assets and customer accounts.
The network is also a point of vulnerability. Data transmission can be slowed by latency or bottlenecks. Hackers can breach the network, stealing and compromising data or even shutting down energy production and transmission. In 2019, The Wall Street Journal identified over a dozen U.S. utilities that had been targeted by cyberterrorists.
Encrypted wavelength is a cost-efficient and effective way for utility companies to protect their networks without sacrificing speed and availability.
Here’s a closer look at 4 ways encrypted wavelength can benefit utility companies.
1) Protecting Against Cyberattacks
Utilities are attractive targets for a special breed of hacker: cyberterrorists. Cybercriminals, sometimes acting on the behalf of foreign nation-states — such as Russia or China — seek out vulnerabilities in the networks of U.S. utilities as a means of intimidation and control. These bad actors may target utilities near major pieces of infrastructure, such as dams, hoping to shut down the water supply or electrical grid.
Encrypted wavelength protects the data generated by users and utility company assets while the data is in flight by scrambling the data so it can’t be interpreted by unauthorized users. Data is encrypted at Layer 1, allowing data to move quickly and freely without being compromised. If a hacker manages to intercept the data, the information will be unusable.
2) Ensuring Availability
High levels of network availability and performance are essential in the utilities industry. Communities depend on utilities for vital resources, such as water, fuel, and power. If the utility grid shuts down, people will be plunged into darkness. They will be unable to drink potable water or cook meals.
When the transmission of data generated by sensors in the field is slowed or interrupted, utility companies can’t monitor assets to conduct preventive maintenance or detect a malfunction. Without real-time information about equipment, a utility could experience an outage.
Encrypted wavelength ensures that the encryption scheme doesn’t add excess latency, consume a high amount of bandwidth or degrade performance. By encrypting at Layer 1, it maintains the highest levels of network performance and avoids utilizing up to 10% of the available bandwidth like encrypting at a higher layer does. In-flight data is protected 24/7 by encryption and user authentication.
3) Reducing Costs
A breach of the network is costly to a utility. A single breach exposes an average of 29,000 records to being stolen or compromised, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars. This is in addition to the loss of public trust in the utility.
Encrypted wavelength empowers utility companies to avoid the economic losses a breach of the network would cause. Company and client information is encrypted in flight and protected by authentication measures, making it inaccessible to unauthorized users.
Not only does encrypted wavelength defend against the cost of a breach, but it is affordable. It requires no equipment, maintenance, or overhead costs.
4) Meeting Stricter Security Standards
Utilities today are strictly regulated with mandated requirements. There is a growing concern for maintaining critical security infrastructure in the industry, specifically with remote monitoring of the grid and the proliferation of IoT devices. More than ever, encryption of in-flight data is part of a holistic security strategy. The physical layer in-flight encryption will complement any security solution for mandated requirements, provide the best performance, and be the most cost-effective for utilities in their buying process.
Experts in Network Security for Utilities
Utilities have unique network security needs, so it helps to work with a partner that understands the industry. FirstLight provides network solutions that are tailored to meet the needs of companies in target industries, such as utilities.
FirstLight offers encrypted wavelength to organizations throughout the Northeast. We provide Layer 1 encryption around-the-clock to protect vital data in flight while allowing for rapid and uninterrupted transmission. When you partner with us, you can be assured that we follow best practices for utility network security.
Get more details on what FirstLight Encrypted Wavelength can do to protect your vital data. Check out our solution brief.