Physical and Cyber Resilience

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Providing a robust, safe and secure network that our customers can rely on every day is vital.

Stakeholder People and groups with an interest in our operations as the region’s electricity distribution network operator. This includes customers, local authorities and installers of low carbon technology feedback has been central to the development of our informational and operational approach for the next business planning period (2023-2028).

As we ready our network for decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods and create a smarter, more digitally connected electricity Infrastructure The different parts of Northern Powergrid’s network, such as overhead power lines, underground cables, substations etc. Individually, these items are sometimes referred to as ‘assets’ , it’s crucial that we keep our assetsPhysical equipment connected to the grid that facilitates the generation and delivery of electricity, e.g. substations, transformers and solar panels , equipment, data and customer information safe from evolving threats of cyber-attacks and physical attacks.

Resilient information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) are critical components of our overall planning as we ready our network.

As we develop our business plan for 2023-2028 we will keep our network, assetsPhysical equipment connected to the grid that facilitates the generation and delivery of electricity, e.g. substations, transformers and solar panels , data and customer information safe from the evolving threats of cyber-attacks and physical attacks. Our plans to open up our network and data for the benefit of our customers will be matched by a focus on high levels of security, enabled by the deployment of the latest technologies. We start our next business plan period in a position of strength thanks to significant recent investments in cyber and physical defences (£24.6m and £22.7m respectively) and we will continue investing to improve this.

As we digitalise more of our operations and open up our data, it is a top priority to maintain our investment in mitigating the cyber-security risks that accompany this. As such, we will expand our cyber defences and abilities to detect abnormal network activity at our major substations. This will mitigate the retirement of power resilient commercial telecom network technologies that we rely on for communicating with our field engineers. It will also ensure that new threats of cyber security do not overshadow any existing physical security threats. We will continue to develop our physical security measures to maintain best practice and protect the network that serves our communities.

Customers will see the following outcomes:

  • protection of their information;
  • protection of their power supply from cyber-attacks;
  • protection of their power supply from physical attacks at our major substations; and
  • power resilient communications systems to support engineers to safely and quickly restore power.i

Actions we will take to deliver these outcomes include:

  • investing in technology, such as cloud security systems (CASB), artificial intelligence (AI) analytics, and automated response technology to help identify weaknesses in our IT systems and quickly detect and respond to attacks;
  • retaining ISO27001 and ISO27019 certification Informational security certification specific to the process for control systems in the energy industry. Protecting our control systems from cyber-attacks helps keep our network available to customers ;
  • developing and implementing a cyber-specialist training programme for our workforce;
  • creating a rapid incident response security solution to quickly provide extra physical protection for network substations;
  • deploying intelligent CCTV systems that can distinguish between a human intruder and expected wildlife on our major substation sites; and
  • helping our engineers to safely and quickly restore power by investing in a resilient mobile communication system for our critical field colleagues.

Benefits:

  • power supply will remain resilient;
  • customers’ personal information will be kept safe;
  • customers’ supplies will not be impacted by cyber-attacks or physical attacks; and
  • restoration of customers’ supplies will not be impacted by major communications failures.

i This means our communications systems will not be reliant on electricity, so we can communicate with our teams as they seek to restore customers’ power.

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