Adrian Crawley, vice president of synack Europe, Middle East and Africa, shared the challenges of “green” measures in network security protection, vehicle security, data, urban planning, personal information and payment, and how a collaborative approach is needed to overcome these challenges.
US President Joseph Biden has spent a lot of time promoting an ambitious climate agenda to reform us energy policy, invest in green jobs and reduce US dependence on fossil fuels. Since taking office in January, he has suspended offshore drilling licenses and promised to rejoin the Paris agreement to limit global warming. At present, President Biden still needs the support of the divided us congress, but it is clear that the United States is on the cusp of green energy prosperity.
The UK is pursuing a similar green future and has ambitious plans to build more sustainable cities using intelligent Internet technology. British Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi sunak said his recent budget would help “develop innovations in renewable energy and help us develop the cutting-edge technologies needed to achieve zero net emissions.”
While the efforts of the United Kingdom and the United States are encouraging, both initiatives raise serious and disturbing questions about cybersecurity and how policymakers plan to ensure the future of digital connectivity.
Solarwinds hackers are just the latest example of how hackers in some countries attack the global supply chain and penetrate utilities. The hacking affected the U.S. Department of energy, the U.S. National Laboratory and the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well as British government agencies and private companies. In February, more disturbing news surfaced that criminals tried to tamper with Florida’s water supply. According to ZDNet, it is reported that in April 2019, an American solar and wind energy provider “lost contact with its power generation device due to cyber attack”.
Unfortunately, for policy makers and clean energy producers, cybersecurity has not become a top priority. In the future, malicious hackers can carry out more successful attacks on solar and wind energy operators and battery suppliers, including operators in the whole clean energy supply chain. Jim Guinn, global managing director of network security in Accenture’s energy, chemical, utilities and mining industries, recently told E & E news, a leading energy industry publication, “there is almost no network security dialogue in renewable energy engineering and construction business today.”
This is a shocking statement. Anyone engaged in cleaning strategy should pay deep attention. If network security testing is not included in the earliest stage of developing these new technologies, we will build an insecure future and open the door to attacks by more troublesome hackers such as solarwinds, or cyber espionage organizations (such as dragonfly) that have successfully penetrated national energy.
The inevitable fact is that any form of digital infrastructure (smart cities, electric vehicles and charging ports, and Internet connected devices will be more closely combined than ever) will greatly expand the global threat. Britain’s “better reconstruction” relies on smart sensors and other Internet connected devices. The future will be supported by applications, connected traffic lights, emission sensors and electric vehicle charging stations. Moreover, each link of these infrastructures may contain a vulnerability, which can be exploited by hackers.
Protecting all these new gadgets, devices and software, which will lay the foundation for a cleaner future, seems to be a difficult task, or even impossible. However, it is not the time to put security first at the beginning and throughout the development life cycle. The automotive industry is a typical example of this approach. Car manufacturers consider safety throughout the production process and in every component of state-of-the-art cars, from brakes to infotainment systems. If the heavily regulated auto industry does not meet these standards, it will fail.
The same can be said for a more closely connected future. Cybersecurity is crucial in any new clean energy initiative. This means taking advantage of a platform that provides comprehensive on-demand testing. This means taking advantage of the smartest minds in the field of network security, who can eliminate vulnerabilities at an early stage of the process. This means that stakeholders should work together to share resources and exchange information on addressing weaknesses in the green energy landscape.
After deploying Green Technology, we can’t wait to consider network security. By then, it was too late. We must now consider these issues. We need innovative and proactive cyber security methods to make smarter and cleaner cities more sustainable, livable and reliable. This is the condition for us to ensure that we can truly overcome the climate crisis facing the world today.