In recent years, almost every aspect of the energy sector’s critical infrastructure – including electricity networks, power stations, and smart grids – has become increasingly monitored and controlled by automated technologies. These technological advances have created many improvements for energy providers and consumers, but at the same time have made it clear that the security and protection of electricity infrastructures is a high priority that needs to be addressed. While the digitalization of this sector has allowed energy providers to meet the challenges of a dynamic energy market, it has also opened providers up to an increasing number of physical attacks as well as cyberattacks. For that reason, energy companies need to make sure that energy sector security measures are being optimized through the use of technology and surveillance.
Why is Security Needed at Power Plants?
The Department of Homeland Security regards the energy sector as one of the most critical infrastructure sectors “whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.” Simply put, the energy sector provides fuel to the transportation industry, electricity to households and businesses, and other sources of energy that drive growth and production across the nation. If the plants that generate the nation’s electricity are not secure, the nation’s infrastructure would be affected in many ways:
- Service to consumers and businesses would be disrupted, and catastrophic, widespread blackouts might occur.
- Patients would be unable to receive care in a hospital (or, home medical equipment that is dependent on electricity might fail).
- Emergency services such as police or EMTs could be disrupted.
- The Communication Sector would be unable to function.
- Water treatment and sewage treatment facilities could not operate.
- The Transportation Sector and supply chain would be negatively impacted.
How to Maximize Security Within The Energy Sector
- Secure and monitor the perimeter – install high-resolution cameras at entry and exit points to monitor the people and vehicles coming on-site, and to determine if a person or vehicle has authorized access to your facility.
- Choose video solutions that integrate with existing systems – integrate surveillance systems with the existing operational technology that monitors activities at your facility. This level of integration between networked technologies allows operators to respond to events (such as fires) quickly and with better information.
- Take advantage of video analytics – advances in technology and analytics allow you to remotely monitor facilities and verify, respond to, and prevent incidents in real-time.
- Control access to all entry and exit points with physical barriers – gates are a powerful deterrent to unauthorized access, and key cards should be utilized to allow employees and contractors access to only authorized areas.
- Educate employees – ensure your facility’s safety by guarding against insider threats and educating employees (and contractors) about malware, phishing attempts, or other cyberattacks they might become unwitting accomplices to and compromise power plant security.
Ensuring The Security Of Our Energy Supply
The safety and security of the nation’s power plants must be taken seriously to protect the plants and supporting infrastructure from theft, sabotage, and malicious attacks. A good surveillance system can detect suspicious activity, keep intruders out, monitor the environment for fire and explosions, guard against terrorist attacks, and monitor access at all entry and exit points. Combining physical security measures with the surveillance technology that is currently available to secure these facilities is a multi-layered approach that all operators should consider to keep the nation’s energy infrastructure secure from both inside and outside threats.
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