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Cyber Risk Quantification and Management for Electric Power Generation Systems

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"Juggling" of the Generation System. Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution systems are the basis for powering practically the entire social fabric. We cannot imagine a world without electricity, in fact, many of us have practically never lived without it. It is hard for us to imagine an entire day without our communications (just look at the social repercussions of the failure of one of the social networks) or that we cannot recharge the batteries of our cell phones.

Imagine for a moment that we lose all the electricity and everything that goes with it, from private lighting that provides quality of life, to public lighting that provides public safety, from any company that needs electricity to operate to critical infrastructures that require power to keep running. Today, a world without electricity would be unthinkable, and we are increasingly dependent on it.  

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Most of this electricity is being produced at the time it is consumed (with hydro storage and new batteries add flexibility to the system), so the system remains in a balance of load and generation, as if it was a dance, in which the latter follows the demand for consumption to satisfy it. 

Among the different electricity generation facilities, we can find the most diverse, from nuclear power plants, thermal power plants (with different fuels: coal, fuel oil and gas), hydroelectric power plants, wind farms, photovoltaic plants, or combined cycle power plants (CHP), among others. Each of these power generation plants has its particularities, such as start-up times, ease of shutdown, fuel prices, fuel availability, etc., and this is something that logically must be considered for its participation in the energy pool, where the mix of all the electricity generated is made, which will be (approximately) equal to that consumed by the system. 

The operation of these power generation facilities is significantly automated using Operational Technologies, in some cases deployed long ago. That presents some cybersecurity considerations and weaknesses and represents a certain level of cyber risk. This, and the critical role that these infrastructures play, are the reason why power generation is a significant target for cyber-attacks.

Depending on the type of electricity generation, it will have some unique characteristics and cyber risks tied to the very nature of its Operational Technology, for example: gas, fuel, nuclear reaction, etc. that must be considered in cases of sabotage or simply sudden shutdown of plants that are not prepared for it. 

Although the electrical systems of developed countries have contemplated the potential failure of any of these generation plants, it will depend on whether there is multiple affection in different plants (lateral displacement of the attack) so that it can pose a significant problem for the supply of the demand of the power pool. 

Also, it has the risk of suffering economic losses due to not being able to produce the committed electricity, in addition to other losses derived from the exposure to penalties (contractual, regulatory, legal, etc.) that could be incurred due to the failure to produce the agreed electricity.  

We must also add the implicit danger in the electricity generation system, and from the electricity system. The sabotage and/or manipulation of the facility that can cause significant damage to the environment where the power generation plant is located -in many of these electricity generators we deal with potentially hazardous fuel: gas, fuel, radioactive elements, etc.- and/or processes that can also be hazardous to the environment -combustion, accumulation of water, radioactive reaction, etc.- causing significant damage to the environment and the population. 

Primary and Secondary Losses triggered by a Cyber Event must also be considered when calculating the financial exposure to Cyber Risk. These risks must be Assessed, Quantified and Managed. 

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Solutions in Cyber Risk Quantification and Management for Power Generation Systems.  

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DeNexus' flagship platform, DeRISK, performs quantification and management of cyber risks for industrial organizations in Power Generation and Transmission and Distribution facilities combining data entered from standards such as NIST CSF, ISO 27001, and DNX CSF(DeNexus' proprietary Cyber Security Framework), with Inside-Out Data seamlessly integrated from various passive and active monitoring solutions, and Outside-In Threat Intelligence and Firmographics data about the facility, its owner and its operator(s). 

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Using technologies such as AI, ML, and Probabilistic Inference with operational metrics specific to each type of Power Generation plant assets, the integrated data safely stored in the DeNexus Trusted Ecosystem powers DeRISK delivering an enriched understanding of the overall risk profile. It enables decisions to be made from the convergence of cyber business metrics, substation Operational Technology and Cybersecurity, so that Power Generation organizations can holistically address the threats facing them from a technical and business standpoint, bridging internal silos and communication challenges.

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With the essence of all this data, DeRISK translates multifaceted insights into quantifiable business impact, enabling well-informed strategic decision making facilitated by DeRISK Cyber Project Simulator that aligns with both organizational objectives and risk tolerance. This holistic approach provides an enhanced security posture that meets the high standards of multiple industry-leading guidelines. 

By synthesizing all of this data, DeRISK translates multifaceted insights into quantifiable business impact, thus allowing for well-informed, strategic decision-making facilitated by DeRISK Cyber Project Simulator that aligns with both organizational goals and risk tolerance. This holistic approach provides an enhanced security posture that meets the high standards of multiple leading industry guidelines.

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With more than 200 deployments of DeRISK in the Power Generation sector, DeNexus understands the intricacies of this asset class. By marrying Cybersecurity Risk Quantification and Management (CRQM) with the operational nuances of the Electric Power Generation and Transmission & Distribution sectors, DeRISK stands as a testament to the future of secure, efficient, and resilient Electric System in the age of digital transformation. 

 

 

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