As utilities and municipalities embrace digital utility concepts, what are some of the minimum processes that they need to put in place to avoid cyber threats?
South African-based Mlungisi Mkhwanazi from the AUTC draws attention to the advent of convergence between operational and information technology (OT and IT), which has brought about a different spin to cyber threats “because all of a sudden you have multiple points of entry into the network”.
“One of the processes that they can be put in place is to ensure that there is some sort of a physical insulation that prohibits instances whereby a memory stick can be plugged in giving access to the rest of the network.
“The utility must be able to curtail somehow that if you going to gain access to the network, you need to ask for permission first.”
Mkhwanazi stresses that the old firewall systems between OT and IT is very critical because it is able to separate two strategic services that are able to function mutually exclusive as well.
He maintains that the digital utility is about human resources and managing how people interact with the systems that have been implemented.
“Whether it is breakdown maintenance or planned maintenance, there will always be some human intervention,” he says.
He further explains that the digital utility is about putting measures in place that are understood by all and assets will be secure and safe in that manner.
Executing services via ICT
Responding to a question about how municipalities and utilities can utilise existing telecommunications infrastructure for better service delivery, Mkhwanazi highlights that budgets in telecommunications infrastructure are usually tight while the network is on a need basis.
However, he advises municipalities and utilities to take advantage of the existing bandwidth coming from telecommunications companies.
Watch the full interview below.