How to Increase Your Wind Farm’s Cyber Security

Offshore and onshore wind farms across the globe are under attack. Cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated and focused on destabilizing energy production. In this article, we dive into how you can prevent cyber-attacks by increasing the security surrounding your wind turbine’s operational technology. 

A new breed of cyber-attacks
The development of cyber-attacks on a wind turbine’s operational technology (OT) has increased over the past decade. Hackers use all possible access points in IT and OT installations to hack the wind turbine. In fact, hackers are likely to succeed as most wind turbines are not designed with security in mind:

”Many wind turbines were built in a time when the focus was on output reliability and not cyber security. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of this and using vulnerabilities and loopholes in OT installations that are not up to date security-wise,” explains Axel Juhl Christensen, Co-founder of TCM® (Turbine Condition Monitoring) at KK Wind Solutions.

With over 25 years of experience in wind turbine condition monitoring, a core OT installation, Christensen has seen first-hand how cyber threats to IT and OT installations have evolved and taken hold in the wind industry. 

Update preinstalled OT installations
With the increased digitization of wind turbines and the need for remote connections out of the turbine, owners and operators are breaking with past restrictive IT and OT policies. This exposes OT installations and their networks to cybercriminals who are ready to take action.

“Previously, owners and operators used to secure their perimeter and discounted security inside the perimeter. However, the current need for remote connections out of the turbine means that added security measures must be implemented and potential security gaps must be closed,” reveals Christensen.

With new OT standards for critical infrastructure providers in the United States and the European Union, owners and operators are increasingly focused on upgrading existing wind turbines to withstand the high volume of cyber-attacks.

“Upgrading preinstalled OT installations, such as a condition monitoring system, still outweighs the cost of unexpected shutdowns caused by cyber-attacks. And the ramifications of a cyber-attack to an OT installation include loss of energy production as well as physical hardware damage,” says Christensen.

Get compliant
After upgrading the OT installation's security, Christensen states that the crucial work lies in monitoring the cyber threats.

“We deliver cyber security upgrades to our hardware components, enabling owners and operators to build a secure OT infrastructure compliant to the United States’ NERC CIP, IEC62443, and the European Union’s NIS2 directive,” says Christensen.

He points to one particular recommendation that they advise their customers to incorporate when building a secure OT network:

”Monitoring the traffic flow of your OT network is vital. The OT network typically contains minimal activity, making it easy to detect irregularities. Moreover, establishing a baseline for traffic pattern will easily highlight if you have been compromised.”

Ultimately, the security design embedded in the product is paramount, as he concludes:

“Our condition monitoring solution, TCM®, is developed with security at heart. It enables NERC CIP, IEC62443 and NIST compliance and includes a unique and secure process to manage the OT zone from the IT zone. This enables our customers to seamlessly build a secure OT infrastructure, keeping the cybercriminals at bay.”

About TCM® (Turbine Condition Monitoring)
TCM® is a state-of-the-art condition monitoring solution that identifies emerging faults and damages in core wind turbine components. 

With 25+ years of experience in the field, we help our customers retrofit and upgrade yesterday’s wind turbines with today’s technology, including enhanced cyber security upgrades to existing wind turbines with preinstalled TCM® solutions.

TCM® enables owners and operators to predict turbine health and improve operational decisions that help reduce turbine downtime and increase power production – providing peace of mind.

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