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Protecting the World's Power Grids

The world’s power grids are digitizing at a rapid pace as the energy transition demands more electrification and integration of renewables. To maintain grid stability and reliability there is a need for increased connectivity across the network which, in addition to the exponential increase of new devices installed, is changing the cybersecurity threat landscape.

These new additions, and the increased complexity of the system, expand the attack surface for bad actors, giving them a whole new set of entry points into critical infrastructure. With interconnected transmission and distribution grids, attacks can come from multiple angles, at multiple levels, and with multiple objectives – from seeking financial gain to damaging critical infrastructure and disrupting the energy supply.

All utility providers must now consider cybersecurity as an essential component of operations.

At GE Vernova, we think about every aspect of energy delivery from the point of generation to its end use. When our customers come to us with their complex problems, we strive to deliver comprehensive solutions. That’s how we’re thinking about cybersecurity – as part of an integrated, multi-layered solution baked into digital substations and Grid Automation software.

Most of the grid asset owners have focused for almost a decade on securing infrastructure from cyber threats. These customers are now asking us to help fortify their defenses with more advanced offerings that use artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive intelligence to detect intrusions. As the threat keeps on evolving, we are also being asked to continue assessing vulnerabilities and help define and integrate an appropriate cyber defense.

Earlier this year, we launched our portfolio of software defined automation solutions – GridBeats – designed for grid digitalization, helping to attain better visibility, faster deployment, increased resilience, and enhanced operations. Our GridBeats-cybersecurity offering includes a comprehensive suite of operational technology (OT) cybersecurity solutions and services that provide cyber awareness, network monitoring, cyber-threat intrusion detection and cyber-attack rapid incident response. This solution supports the broader goals of digital transformation and business growth while safeguarding critical OT assets and information, as well as maintaining compliance with evolving regulations.

To protect the grid infrastructure, we also need collaboration between industry players. Asset owners, regulators, government agencies, and manufacturers, need to work together to define standards, and enable the ecosystem to invest in improving our collective cybersecurity posture.

Of course, the innovation can’t stop there. The cyber threat landscape changes every day. When hackers defeat the mousetrap, we must build a better one. This requires continued investment in new solutions. This is an issue that won’t go away any time soon. People, knowledge and technology are key to protecting our critical infrastructure.

With the world depending on us in the energy industry to keep the lights on by electrifying and decarbonizing the world, cybersecurity deserves our attention.

About the Author

Nicolas Gibergues is a Senior Executive and P&L Leader leading the Grid Automation business line within Grid Solutions at GE Vernova, where he is responsible for shaping and executing the business strategy for the Grid Automation portfolio through the development, delivery, and servicing of advanced technologies. He started his career in the aerospace industry as an air traffic control field engineer in Cairo, Egypt. Nicolas then moved to Alcatel in 2001 holding various positions in Thailand, Malaysia, and France, before joining Areva in 2009 as a regional leader for the Asia Pacific Automation business, based in Singapore. From 2013, Nicolas took the responsibility for Grid Automation’s global operations, driving operational excellence and overall business performance, and leading transformation actions in Europe and the Middle East. Nicolas has led the substation protection portfolio from 2017, driving the development of new technology, products, commercial strategy, and business models. Nicolas moved to his new role of Grid Automation P&L Leader in July 2019. Nicolas holds a Master of Engineering degree in Electronics and Digital Communications from Ecole Supérieure d’Electricité (Supélec) in France.

Profile Photo of Nicolas Gibergues