Cybersecurity Program Offering Announced by APPA

December 22, 2016

Cybersecurity Monitoring Pilot Program
APPA-DOE Discount: Through APPA’s Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Energy (DE-OE0000811), members may apply for the N-Sentinel cybersecurity monitoring service from N-Dimension Solutions at $1,980 per device for the first year (80% savings).

Cybersecurity is an important issue for American Public Power Association (APPA) members. Setting good passwords, installing anti-virus software, and configuring firewalls are no longer enough to protect utility data communications networks from cyber attack. However, not all organizations have the resources to take advanced steps to securing their networks. To promote comprehensive security practices, APPA is offering its members financial assistance.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Electricity Subsector Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model (ES-C2M2) identifies many security practices that APPA members may not have had the opportunity to implement.  While APPA will soon issue an adaptation of the ES-C2M2 with practices tailored specifically for public power providers, in some instances, implementing recommended practices “in-house” might not be feasible. New hardware or software requirements, significant maintenance requirements, or a need for IT expertise may lead power providers to hire third-party vendors with experience and expertise in security for public power utilities. Seeking out expert vendors could simplify filling security gaps, and while no single solution will protect all grid services, addressing gaps in security will go a long way.

Implementing the ES-C2M2 practices can be costly, especially if external parties are needed. To help us understand what technologies will be most beneficial for public power, APPA will subsidize up to 80% of the first-year costs of the product listed below.  This is a limited offer for APPA members who are ready to implement these technologies and give us regular feedback.

N-Sentinel Monitoring by N-Dimension[1]

  • Who it’s for: Utilities with one or multiple network switches
  • What it does: Remote monitoring of alerts based on network traffic
  • More information: http://www.n-dimension.com/products/n-sentinel/
  • Annual cost: $9,900 per device (most customers start with one)
  • APPA-DOE Program Discount: Through APPA’s Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Energy (DE-OE0000811), members selected for the pilot project may subscribe to the N-Sentinel service at $1,980 per device for the first year (80% savings).
  • Contacts: If interested in participating in the APPA/DOE grant program, please contact APPA at cybersecurity@publicpower.org  (referencing APPA-DOE Cooperative Agreement code: DE-OE0000811). APPA will evaluate all requests and select qualified program participants. For more information on N-Sentinel Monitoring, contact Brad Luna at brad.luna@n-dimension.com.

Existing firewalls may not prevent an attacker from connecting to a utility network or an employee from unwittingly downloading a file containing malware. N-Dimension’s N-Sentinel continuously monitors traffic at the utility’s network switch to recognize potentially malicious activities and creates alerts to provide insight and guidance on threats. A cloud-based portal provides ready access to alerts, which are tiered by severity and actionable—i.e., staff will know exactly when serious threats arise and what actions to take next.

The N-Sentinel Monitoring product is specially targeted to small and medium utilities with relatively simple networks and limited IT resources. N-Dimension provides a network-monitoring device that connects to a utility’s network switch (for most small utilities, the key business functions connect through a single switch). Support technicians are available to address requirements, troubleshoot, and configure the device if needed.

Key Benefits

  • 24×7 remote monitoring and detection of network intrusions
  • Alerts with actionable steps to mitigate risk
  • Cloud-based threat analysis and info on threat activity across the utility community
  • Access to cybersecurity experts to answer questions and provide guidance
  • Training to use the web portal and access to cybersecurity experts
  • Easy, fast deployment and hands-off management

Program Details

  • Contact APPA at cybersecurity@publicpower.org with your interest to participate
  • Reference the APPA-DOE Cooperative Agreement code: DE-OE0000811
  • APPA will evaluate all requests and select qualified program participants
  • N-Dimension will invoice the utility for $1,980 for a 1-year subscription
  • APPA will subsidized the remaining $7,920 with Cooperative Agreement funds

Next Steps

APPA has coordinated with N-Dimension to negotiate the member cost listed above. To take advantage of this product and service offering, reach out to American Public Power Association as noted above.

As APPA negotiates further opportunities on behalf of members, the products and services will be added. Depending on the terms of the negotiation, members will likely be eligible for up to an 80% savings. For more information about this program from APPA, contact cybersecurity@publicpower.org.

Nathan Mitchell PE
Sr. Director, Electric Reliability Standards & Security
American Public Power Association
Direct: 202.467.2925
Mobile: 202.731.1851

Acknowledgment:  These activities are based upon work supported by the Department of Energy under Award Number DE-OE0000811.

 

[1] Full disclosure: N-Dimension is the exclusive cybersecurity partner of Hometown Connections, the utility services subsidiary of the American Public Power Association (APPA).

 

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