The WEF (World Economic Forum) has said that latest developments in artificial intelligence (AI)-driven cybersecurity could help energy companies put cyber defenders ahead of attackers. AI offerings can be effectively and quickly used to detect, monitor and prevent cyberattacks on critical infrastructure.
The growing adoption of industrial devices connected to critical infrastructure within the energy system is witnessing an exponential increase, while the industry’s attackers have increasingly become more sophisticated, the WEF said on Monday. Malicious players have gone beyond the traditional cybercriminals seeking financial gain. They now include sophisticated state and non-state actors that use critical energy and its infrastructure framework in their geopolitical conflicts.
The Geneva-based body looks at growing cyber resilience as a potential challenge for various organizations, including the energy sector. Power systems are among the most complex and critical of all infrastructures and act as the backbone of economic activity. The energy sector needs affordable, AI-driven cybersecurity monitoring services that push operational technologies (OT) targets, regardless of fleet size or market share, to secure the entire energy ecosystem, WEF said.
Advancement of technology driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution has led networks of health, transport, communication, production and distribution to demand increasing energy resources that support global digitalization and advancement of interconnected devices.
By merging interoperable and manufacturer-agnostic AI technologies, and productively using OT-native human expertise, small and medium-sized energy companies can get hold of monitoring, detection and cyberattack-prevention capabilities, which was previously only attempted in-house at companies with large budgets, according to WEF. With AI-driven cybersecurity services, the small and mid-sized companies now have the tools and technologies necessary to stop attacks before they start, and are prepared for any attacks on their infrastructure.
Energy companies, utilities and consumers now choose to integrate OT energy assets, including power generation, transmission, distribution and end-use technologies with IT control systems to reduce costs, improve efficiency and lower emissions. However, the digitally connected environment presents possible cyber vulnerabilities, as every point in the ecosystem can play host to malicious actors, who may potentially enter or manipulate energy infrastructure.
By using AI for monitoring and identifying cyberthreats in the OT, the energy companies can generate a clear picture of anomalous behavior and draw out actionable insights for defenders to stop attacks.
The WEF expects that by securing all the elements in the energy value chain the industry will continue to develop smart infrastructure, electric vehicles and decentralized power generation.