N-Sentinel Monitoring is Key Element in Demonstrating Cybersecurity Diligence
Addison, Texas – September 14, 2016 – N-Dimension Solutions, a market leading Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) with innovative solutions that protect smart energy networks from cyber threats, announced today that Missouri Public Utility Alliance (MPUA) is now using N-Sentinel Monitoring to protect its cyber assets. In addition, they are assisting their public power pool members in deploying N-Sentinel Monitoring in their networks as well; to date, 37 MPUA utility members have the product.
MPUA-MJMEUC is a not-for-profit Joint Action Agency (JAA) that operates for the benefit of its 117 municipally owned electric, natural gas, water, wastewater and broadband utility members in the state of Missouri. As cyber threats have increased in number and frequency, leadership at MPUA prioritized the creation of a Cyber Security Initiative to focus on improving their own cybersecurity as well as that of their utility members of all sizes and types. They also recognized that many insurance providers are assessing the cyber safety of utilities and using this information to help determine premiums so the added layer of protection could provide them a cost savings.
“Threat monitoring is a critical layer of protection that all utilities need,” said Ewell Lawson, Manager of Government Relations and Member and Finance Services for MPUA. “We are pleased to provide this guidance to all of our utility members to help them improve their cyber safety so they can ensure continued reliable operations.”
“We were unaware of some of the cybersecurity risks N-Sentinel Monitoring identified and guided us in fixing,” said Jason Peterson, Director of IT and Broadband Services, Carthage Water & Electric Plant and an MPUA member. “We appreciate the initiative taken by MPUA in helping us reduce risk; it is a real advantage for us.”
MPUA identified several other benefits to improving their own cybersecurity vigilance in addition to continuous monitoring, timely identification and remediation of malicious cyber activity. Specifically, MPUA has several power generation projects worth several billion dollars that utilize bonds for funding. As such, these bonds are rated periodically by a bond-rating agency that evaluates risk; cybersecurity contributes to the overall credit quality of the organization.
Also, MPUA aggregates power purchase for over 60 cities, handling over $400M annually. As the vast majority of these financial transactions are electronic, ensuring they remain secure is of critical importance to MPUA, public power pool members, insurance providers and financial institutions.
As a JAA, MPUA electric utilities have the added benefit of access to various programs and expertise that adds value. MPUA designed and has rolled out a special program as part of its Cyber Security Initiative that simplifies onboarding utilities to the N-Sentinel managed service program. Their goal is to have all their power utilities using N-Sentinel Monitoring. Among the MPUA member utilities using N-Sentinel, approximately 6% of the alerts detected so far have been identified as Priority 1 meaning they are of a critical nature and require timely attention by IT staff to remediate.
By quickly identifying cyber risks, providing remediation guidance to IT and timely actions, risk levels can be reduced. An example is a recent cybersecurity breach that occurred at one of the MPUA municipal power utilities. N-Sentinel Monitoring identified malware attempting to retrieve customer power usage data on the city’s Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) network. With timely awareness, the utility was made aware of the issue and how to remediate the threat. The utility does not believe any customer identity information was exposed and they are moving forward on further fortifying their cybersecurity defenses.
As part of the Initiative, MPUA evaluated multiple cybersecurity solutions for threat monitoring. They selected N-Sentinel managed security service not only for its continuous monitoring; alerts; in-depth reports and remediation guidance; and accessibility to cybersecurity experts but because it offers features specifically benefiting utilities. With N-Sentinel Monitoring, utilities have access to utility community cyber intelligence, which offers aggregated visibility into threats affecting others. With these insights, utilities can take preventative steps to prevent an attack as well as demonstrate progress being made in threat reduction over time compared to other similar utilities. In addition, N-Dimension solutions are recommended by Hometown Connections, the utility services subsidiary of the American Public Power Association (APPA).
“MPUA has created an excellent template for JAAs around the country to follow to work with their members on improve reducing cybersecurity risk as well as insurance costs,” said Tom Ayers, president and CEO, N-Dimension. “We are continuing to work closely with the APPA and NRECA to support their efforts and the efforts of their constituency.”
About N-Dimension Solutions
N-Dimension is a market leading Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) with innovative solutions tailored to protect smart energy networks from cyber attacks, improving system reliability and safeguarding critical infrastructure, data and assets. The company’s N-Sentinel line of services delivers vigilance, detecting and alerting on cyber threats. It combines cloud-based security intelligence and cybersecurity experts to deliver actionable guidance that enables utilities to take timely, preemptive action to protect themselves against cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
Company headquarters are in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada and U.S. headquarters are located in Addison, Texas. N-Dimension is the exclusive cybersecurity partner of Hometown Connections, the utility services subsidiary of the American Public Power Association (APPA), an associate member of the APPA, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and Electricity Distributors Association (EDA).