Everyone in the developed world depends on a range of utilities in their everyday lives. New risks can always disrupt the facilities that provide these essentials, making infrastructure security more important than ever. It falls on the staff of utilities, then, to do everything in their power to anticipate these dangers and thwart them.
This guide will explain the issue of utility infrastructure security, cite some examples, and offer professional security measures and tips on keeping assailants at bay.
What Is Utility Infrastructure?
Utility infrastructure refers to any part of the supply, distribution, or reticulation network operated by a utility provider. It can consist of poles, pipes, cables, wires, conduits, and tunnels, along with rail and tram infrastructure, and can be susceptible to damage, theft, and vandalism if left unprotected. Such issues can be minor, or they can be large-scale attacks with significant ramifications.
3 Examples of Utility Infrastructure Security Breaches
Terrorism is on the rise, and more people depend on global utilities than ever. This makes utility infrastructure security crucial for all governments worldwide. Terrorists are increasingly targeting power stations, transportation control systems, water and gas plants, and other utilities. They launch attacks to shut down critical infrastructure.
There are three utility infrastructure attacks that highlight the problems they cause for utility providers and their end-users.
Ukrainian Power Outage
A 2015 supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) attack forced a massive power outage in the Ukraine. The outage left approximately 230,000 in the western portion of the country without power for several hours.
Rye Brook, New York Dam Attack
Iranian criminals accessed the core command-and-control system of the Rye Brook dam in 2013. The attack, which went unreported for three years, was apparently intended to showcase the hackers’ ability to control American infrastructure.
U.S. Nuclear Power Plants
The U.S. government found that Russian criminals attacked American and European power plants and water and electric systems from 2015 to 2017. It was unable to determine if the Russian attackers did so for reconnaissance and/or sabotage.
Criminals can attack utility providers without notice, and the damage can be significant. Those who invest in physical infrastructure security won’t necessarily stop utility attacks, but they can make it difficult for criminals to achieve their desired results.
Why Physical Infrastructure Security Is Important
Physical security is all about keeping utility infrastructure safe from real-world threats. It deters criminal activity without hampering everyday operations at a utility facility. Traditional physical security measures at utility infrastructure facilities – such as gates, fences, and security keys – can help keep criminals at bay. They can provide a great starting point to immediately improve security across a facility.
Utility providers must look beyond traditional physical measures to maintain round-the-clock security, though. This requires utility providers to consider how a criminal will try to infiltrate their facilities from all angles, and to plan accordingly.
4 Tips to Guard Against Utility Infrastructure Attacks
A robust and comprehensive approach to security is the best way to minimize utility infrastructure attacks. It’s wise to accept the fact that there’s no simple fix that will solve the problem and instead assess how different solutions can work together to give you the best coverage.
Here are four actions that utility providers can take to go beyond traditional measures to enhance infrastructure security.
1. Invest in Real-Time Threat Detection
Security and surveillance go hand in hand. Online CCTV video surveillance can save thousands of working hours each year. It can also provide you with real-time threat detection. Monitoring is more powerful than ever, thanks to the internet and sophisticated algorithms that aid in detection. Unmanned surveillance can save both time and staff hours. It is especially useful in unmanned sites, such as substations and remote work sites.
2. Modernize Access Control and Intruder-Detection Systems
Illegal entry is one of the biggest threats to any utility facility. Theft of hazardous materials or a perpetrator creating damage each pose a significant risk. Legacy systems are vulnerable to external threats, however, and they are also costly and ineffective.
Modern security requires intrusion detection, which works when perimeter detection fails. It provides a utility facility with immediate response solutions. Advanced control systems can now identify individual people, manage the flow of crowds during busy hours, and minimize the risk associated with unknown individuals entering a sensitive space. Face recognition and digital signature scanning let you control access across facilities, for example. You can also upgrade these systems with biometric scans, advanced keys, and turnstile doors to further enhance infrastructure security.
3. Focus on Constant Maintenance and Upgrading
Maintenance of all security equipment should be a top priority. It ensures optimal performance, and a well-maintained facility will be difficult to breach. You need to develop a maintenance plan. Track regular maintenance and identify any issues along the way. Ensure upgrades are completed at regular intervals. You can pair security maintenance with equipment maintenance contracts. This helps ensure your facility always remains operational.
4. Partner With a Security Solutions Expert
Consult with top security providers to broaden your knowledge about possible solutions. These experts can help you assess the vulnerabilities and identify countermeasures. Request information about security solutions from expert providers. This gives you a good idea about what types of infrastructure security solutions are available. It lets you receive insights into how a security solutions professional can help you optimize security across your utility facility.
A utility provider should carefully map out every stage of its infrastructure security plan. It can begin the planning process with an in-depth evaluation of current and prospective infrastructure security challenges.
Common Pitfalls of Infrastructure Security
The best-laid infrastructure security plan can be exposed by a single breach. A utility provider needs to understand the security risks across its facility so it can craft a plan that accounts for all of them. Here are some infrastructure security challenges that can hamper utility providers:
- Poor planning that causes a utility provider to miss out on different locations that must be secured to prevent unauthorized access to critical infrastructure
- Lack of budget that forces a utility provider to cut corners on security
- Insufficient communication and collaboration between appropriate stakeholders
- Failure to look beyond traditional security solutions to guard against emerging threats
- No metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of an infrastructure security plan
Infrastructure security planning is an ongoing effort. The best plan usually includes traditional security measures and comprehensive support from a trusted partner. It also encompasses remote monitoring by a mobile video surveillance system that lets a utility provider track all activity across its facility.
Contact an Expert With Questions About Infrastructure Security
Choosing an infrastructure security partner that delivers mobile video surveillance is a must. Mobile Video Guard provides our clients with the latest in security technology, offering real-time updates, hazardous-situation tracking, and a solution that will provide your site with high levels of security at a fraction of the cost of hiring security guards.
Reach out to Mobile Video Guard today to find out how the leading video surveillance experts can help improve your utility infrastructure security.