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Alperia selects Kaspersky to protect its power grid's remote control systems for 280,000 users in South Tyrol
Energy provider Alperia has chosen Kaspersky to protect its power plants' remote control systems and distribution network that supply electricity to 280,000 users in South Tyrol, Italy. The choice to implement Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity for Nodes was decided upon due to the need to have a dedicated solution for the operational technology (OT) environment that grants maximum protection, without the risk of machines essential to the supply of services being interrupted. Kaspersky currently protects 40 Alperia servers. 

Alperia, a South Tyrol company established in 2016 following the merger of two major local electrical utilities, currently distributes electrical energy and gas to 280,000 users and operates 34 hydro-electrical power plants, six district heating plants, over 8,600 km of grid and 700 charging stations.

The Telecommunications and Teleconduction division of Alperia Group, led by Sandro Moretti, operates the production data and telecommunications transmission systems. A team of 13 individuals looks after RTUs (Remote Terminal Units), the data centres, the operation of control rooms and the connection network of the group's two units: Alperia Greenpower for power production and Edyna for electrical energy distribution.

The need for Alperia to find a strategic partner to combat IT issues comes from the necessity to protect such a complex system, and more specifically the remote control systems of power plants and energy grids for its users in South Tyrol. It was therefore fundamental to find a solution to fit how the company manages the perimeter of its remote-control systems with a more advanced security system against cyberattacks than the classical endpoints, and mainly dedicated to the OT environment. An essential characteristic to protect industrial environments is actually the implementation of solutions that are especially designed for these systems and that are able to grant maximum protection without the risk of stopping machines that are fundamental for supplying services.

After careful analysis of the few solutions available on the market specifically dedicated to industrial environments, Alperia has chosen Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity (KICS). This solution is developed to protect the different levels of industrial infrastructures including SCADA, DCS, PLC, engineering stations and network connections. This solution has a distinctive feature as it implements a holistic approach to grant cybersecurity for companies and critical infrastructures alike. Thanks to its versatility and flexibility, the solution can be configured based on an organization's particular needs, meaning it can fit the requirements of a specific ICS environment. This approach not only provides protection for industrial endpoints, but also makes use of passive monitoring technologies to identify anomalies and detect any possible network intrusion.

Installing a security solution on systems that must always be operational is not easy. Alperia and Kaspersky decided to set up a combined work team to develop the best possible solution setup. In late 2018, KICS for Nodes was implemented for some weeks on some machines in order to not only verify the effects on their efficiency, but also understand what exceptions to set and optimizations to integrate. All systems are redundant in Alperia, so initially the solution was only installed on one of the two redundant machines to have a solid backup in case of problems without risking any impact on the production cycle. After having successfully passed several stress tests and having verified that the new system does not detect any false positives and has no interactions that could slow down application prorams and lock some fundamental services, Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity was implemented and made fully operational on 40 Alperia servers.

"Collaboration was the right path to reach our goal. The idea of setting up a task force with Kaspersky engineers allowed us to customize the product and make it fit for our company. I'm convinced that in such cases it is necessary to go beyond the classical client-supplier relationship and focus on creating a broader partnership. For this, we are considering the idea of setting up a service contract with Kaspersky that goes beyond the product support service and is configured like a support service for the whole network perimeter," stated Sandro Moretti Division Manager of Teleconduction & Telecommunication of Alperia.

"We are really proud to have been chosen by such an innovative and future-oriented energy provider like Alperia," said Morten Lehn, Kaspersky's general manager in Italy. "It is no surprise to Kaspersky that companies committed to providing essential services like electrical energy are getting more involved with solving the problem of protecting the infrastructures they have to operate. The rising number of connected devices and the growing digitalisation of utility infrastructures offers many opportunities, but there is also an exponential growth of risks to consider. Information accidents at the industrial level are among the most dangerous ones, as they may lead to production breakdowns and cause tangible economic losses, besides being difficult to solve. And that is mainly when the accident takes place in critical and vital sectors, such as energy. Looking to the future, we will continue to work to provide tailored information security solutions that take into account the constantly evolving need of companies in every sector."

For more information about Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity, please visit the Kaspersky website.

Additional information on the partnership between Alperia and Kaspersky is available via this link.

Published Thursday, May 21, 2020 8:39 AM by David Marshall
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