Monday, December 5, 2022

Why cyber security is now a must-have for all clean energy solutions

Cyber security and people are alike: both are dynamic and both know there is never 100 percent security, there is always vulnerability to systems and to people. People think cyber security is all about hacking but it is more about strategy, the right tools, and the right people. These words by cyber-security engineer and researcher Dr. Bright Gameli Mawudor reflect the reality that green technology has found itself in today’s rapidly evolving IT space.

This is echoed by Rashik Parmar MBE FBCS, Group chief executive officer of BCS The Chartered Institute for IT who reckons that cyber security is at the heart of climate change ambitions. For instance, says Parmar, world leaders must understand that net zero with the help of digital technologies and scientists, engineers, and managers with the right skills is what will help realize climate ambition as outlined by the COP27.

“We need a global talent pool of data science professionals to help us understand what the data is saying, supported by universal data standards that build trust and confidence,” says Pamar. He further cites that all organizations need people with digital skills to commission, build and manage carbon accounting and carbon removal systems and embed them into everyday business practice.

How does this play into green tech? To begin with, green tech refers to a type of technology that is considered environmentally friendly based on its production process or its supply chain. According to cyber security analyst Jackson Kizito, it can also refer to clean energy production, the use of alternative fuels, and technologies that are less harmful to the environment than fossil fuels.

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“The market for green technology is relatively young. But it has garnered a significant amount of investor interest due to increasing awareness about the impacts of climate change and the depletion of natural resources as evidenced by the COP27,” says Kizito.

He explains that the goal of green tech is to protect the environment, repair damage is done to the environment in the past, and conserve the world’s natural resources. In addition to this, the use of green tech can be a stated goal of a business segment or a company.

“These goals are typically outlined in a company’s environmental, sustainability, and governance (ESG) statement, or can even be found in the mission statement of a firm,” says Kizito. “Increasingly, socially responsible investors are looking to narrow down their prospective investments to only include companies that specifically employ or produce green technologies.”

The evolution of eco-friendly solutions through technology has also presented a challenge. According to Security policy expert Adam Stahl, the surface attack area for both nation-state actors and cyber criminals has expanded. “Both renewable and traditional energy industrial control systems like pipeline distribution management, solar or wind generation, and bulk electricity systems, are increasingly internet-enabled, introducing greater cyber security risks, in both scope and scale,” This means that without proper cyber security, cybercriminals can now probe, disrupt, and inflict significant damage on key pieces of energy infrastructure with the click of a button.

These sentiments are echoed by Kizito who says that as energy enterprises across the world rush to invent and implement new technologies, they must bear the risk of potential cyber breaches and put cyber security at the core of their solutions.

For instance in order to reduce the carbon footprint, systems must be modernized and digitalized. The ripple effect of this is that this process will make them more efficient but vulnerable to cyber-attacks.  “When inventing new energy products and solutions, it is now very critical to build security into their foundation. Every green technology is tied to the internet in some way, which is why cyber security must be mandatory,” says Kizito. If these technologies are not secure by design, the efficiency of any later security measures cannot be guaranteed, rendering the technology detrimental to both security and climate transformation.

Kizito says that the solution to these challenges is proper protection. For instance, right from your home, you can protect the devices you use such as your solar-powered security camera, USB batteries, and LED bulbs, and home garden kits with the right software to encrypt your connection and increase your privacy and security online. “Whether you’re using your phone, tablet, computer, or router, and no matter where you are or whatever devices you are using, you should guarantee your safety and privacy.

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