Why Cybersecurity is the Crucial Step in Achieving a Sustainable Future

Siemen Energy’s Head of Industrial Cybersecurity in Middle East and Asia Pacific

As the digitalization of the energy sector accelerates, the threat of cyberattacks continues to loom large. Recent attacks on critical infrastructure such as the Colonial Pipeline in the United States and Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have highlighted the devastating impact of such attacks on human lives. As the global energy crisis puts energy security at risk, cybersecurity can no longer be an afterthought.

To address this urgent need, Siemens Energy has announced the opening of its Cyber Security Operating Center (cSOC) in Malaysia. The purpose-built facility, equipped with Managed Detection Response (MDR) technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities, is designed to monitor, detect, and mitigate cyber threats against critical operating infrastructure throughout the energy value chain. The cSOC serves as a hub for cyber defense technology in the Asia Pacific region and is staffed by a dedicated team of cybersecurity experts who provide 24/7 monitoring, detection, and timely crisis support to secure businesses’ operating environment and ensure operational continuity.

CIO World Asia spoke Jack Chubb, Siemen Energy’s Head of Industrial Cybersecurity in Middle East and Asia Pacific about cybersecurity being a crucial step in achieving a sustainable future.

Understanding the Criticality of Cybersecurity in the Energy Value Chain

The energy sector is increasingly becoming a prime target for cyber attacks, as criminals and other threat actors grow more sophisticated. These threats are no longer limited to information technology (IT) infrastructure, but also target critical operational technology (OT) infrastructure. Adding to the concern is the fact that investments in digital solutions are expanding the attack surface area, thereby exposing more organizations to threats.

The energy value chain, which comprises the exploration, production, transportation, and distribution of oil, gas, and electricity, relies heavily on technology and digital systems for efficient operations. This reliance on technology makes the sector even more vulnerable to cyber threats.

The energy sector is considered a top priority when it comes to cybersecurity for several reasons. First, it provides essential services that are vital to the functioning of society. Any disruption to the energy supply can have severe consequences for public safety, the economy, and national security. Additionally, the energy sector is an attractive target for cybercriminals due to the potential for financial gain. Successful attacks on energy pipelines or power grids could result in significant economic losses.

Moreover, many energy companies still use legacy systems that were not designed with cybersecurity in mind. Such systems may be vulnerable to cyberattacks and may be challenging to update or replace. Additionally, the energy sector is highly interconnected, which means that a cyberattack on one part of the system could have ripple effects throughout the value chain. For instance, an attack on a single power plant could impact the entire grid.

To mitigate these risks, energy companies must prioritize cybersecurity and invest in robust security measures to protect their systems and infrastructure. Such measures include regular security audits and assessments, the implementation of security protocols, and the use of advanced security technologies. By adopting these measures, energy companies can significantly reduce their vulnerability to cyber threats and safeguard critical infrastructure.

Preventing Cyberattacks on Critical Infrastructure in the Energy Sector

Siemens Energy has announced the opening of its Cyber Security Operations Center (cSOC) in Asia Pacific to support energy sectors across the region in enhancing their cybersecurity resilience. The move comes after the Colonial Pipeline attack served as a warning of the urgent need for proactive measures to protect critical infrastructure against cyber threats.

The cSOC is equipped with continuous monitoring capabilities that enable rapid and proactive cybersecurity protection to critical infrastructure. This allows the cSOC to detect and respond to cyber threats in real-time, reducing the potential damage caused by cybercriminals. By leveraging threat intelligence, Siemens Energy can help energy partners stay up to date with the latest cyber threats and vulnerabilities, allowing the company to proactively identify and respond to potential threats before cybercriminals can exploit them.

In the event of a cyberattack, the cSOC can quickly mobilize an incident response team to investigate and remediate the attack. The cSOC is designed to help minimize the damage and downtime caused by the attack, thereby protecting the critical infrastructure of the energy sector.

According to Siemens Energy, the cSOC in Asia Pacific will be a vital component in supporting the energy sector in the region, which faces a range of cybersecurity challenges due to the high value of its assets and the interconnected nature of its systems. Through the cSOC, Siemens Energy hopes to provide the energy sector with proactive and real-time cybersecurity protection, which is crucial to maintaining the security and resilience of critical infrastructure in the face of evolving cyber threats.

Strengthening Energy Infrastructure Security in the Region

Siemens Energy is taking cybersecurity seriously by investing in its Cyber Security Operations Center (cSOC) in the Asia Pacific. The move comes in response to the rising cybersecurity threats facing the energy sector, as evidenced by the recent Colonial Pipeline attack.

The cSOC is designed to provide rapid and proactive cybersecurity protection to critical infrastructure, detecting and responding to cyber threats in real-time. The center is also equipped with vital threat intelligence that helps partners in the energy sector stay up-to-date with the latest cyber threats and vulnerabilities. With this information, the cSOC can identify and respond to potential threats before cybercriminals can exploit them, and in the event of a cyberattack, the cSOC can quickly mobilize an incident response team to investigate and remediate the attack.

However, the cSOC is not only about short-term tactical capabilities; it also has a more strategic set of objectives to build operational technology (OT) cybersecurity capacity in the Asia Pacific region in the long term. Siemens Energy offers a range of support, from conducting regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing to compliance guidance and education partnerships.

The vulnerability assessments, for example, identify weaknesses within energy infrastructure and networks, enabling energy companies to address vulnerabilities before cybercriminals can exploit them. Additionally, Siemens Energy has recently partnered with Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN) to grow the next generation of OT cybersecurity experts in Malaysia and beyond.

With its commitment to cybersecurity and building OT cybersecurity capacity, Siemens Energy is helping energy companies stay ahead of cyber threats, keep critical infrastructure and networks secure, and ultimately accelerate the energy transition in the region.

Understanding the role of Managed Detection Response (MDR)

The primary service offered by the cSOC is Managed Detection Response (MDR), which empowers our customers and partners to detect and counteract cybersecurity threats against crucial operational infrastructure across the entire energy value chain. By utilizing MDR technology, our energy sector partners can gain up to 90% visibility into operations across their OT assets, networks, and control systems. This includes areas where these systems intersect with the customer’s IT environment. This visibility allows for swift detection and response to any abnormal activity, safeguarding against potential damage or downtime.

Enhancing Cybersecurity in the Energy Sector with Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning, Managed Detection Response (MDR) conducts prescriptive analysis on collected data. This means that energy companies receive threat intelligence not only on current and past incidents within their OT environment but also on potential threats that may arise. By generating insights from these analyses, our partners and customers can take proactive measures to prevent potential cyber incidents before they occur, ultimately strengthening their cybersecurity resilience.

cSOC Cybersecurity Experts’ 24/7 Monitoring and Timely Crisis Support for Operational Continuity

Siemens Energy offers an MDR service that gives customers access to top-notch OT and cyber domain experts. This expertise allows the company to deliver personalized insights that are specifically relevant to the OT environment, providing threat detection that is almost unmatched. The MDR service meets customers’ needs for continuous monitoring by utilizing a combination of methodology, technology, and human intelligence. This approach enables the organization to provide advanced real-time cyber threat detection alerts. OT cybersecurity experts further analyze detected events to provide rapid, actionable, and proportional responses in real-time.