Energy companies struggling to counter IoT security risks, finds research

While the majority of energy companies are turning to the Internet of Things (IoT) to help them meet growing demands for power and operate with greater efficiency, too many lack the security procedures to successfully deploy IoT solutions. This is according to the latest research from Inmarsat (ISAT.L), which found that more than half of global energy businesses do not have the skills and understanding required to combat the security risks associated with IoT.

In May 2017 market research specialist Vanson Bourne interviewed senior IT decision makers from 100 large energy companies across the globe for Inmarsat’s ‘The Future of IoT in Enterprise – 2017’ report. The research found that 53% of energy businesses identified a need to make heavy investments to meet both physical and digital IoT security requirements, and more than half (54%) reported that they needed additional digital skills in security to deliver successful IoT projects.

Moreover, just 30% reported that they have given special consideration to network security as part of the development of their IoT solutions, while only 38% have taken additional steps to protect against cyber-attacks.

These IoT security challenges may stem from a lack of understanding of IoT at board level within these organisations, potentially making it more difficult for project teams to secure the investment they need to effectively counter IoT security threats. In fact, according to the research, almost six in ten (59%) energy respondents stated that their board had either a partial or no understanding of IoT at all.

Commenting on the findings, Chuck Moseley, senior director for Energy at Inmarsat Enterprise said, “IoT represents a fundamental change in the way that energy grid networks and organisations will operate. The core operations of energy companies have traditionally been insulated from the destructive cyber-attacks that have destabilised other industries, as they were not connected to the internet.

But, with the advent of IoT, more and more parts of their infrastructure are being connected, creating new vulnerabilities and risks. Worryingly, our research shows that many energy businesses lack the security processes and skills to address these new vulnerabilities. This needs to be quickly addressed, and it must be driven by senior leadership within energy businesses, to ensure that they do not miss out on the huge potential value that IoT can bring to the energy sector.”

Moseley concluded: “For energy companies to thrive in this climate, IoT security needs to be at the top of the agenda and it is essential that boards raise their understanding of the risks they face. This involves ensuring that the fundamental network infrastructure underpinning device connectivity aligns with the highest security and reliability standards, and that the end points are configured correctly.”

Satellite communications networks can offer a more secure and reliable method of enabling energy companies to safely transport data from their connected things to and from anywhere on the planet. With up to 99.9% uptime, Inmarsat’s L-band services are enabling IoT solutions in the energy sector globally, even in the most remote and hostile environments.

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