Striking the Delicate Balance Between Security and Functionality in Public Utilities


In this episode of the Energy Podcast, host Sean Heath sat down with Jonathan Azarcon, executive vice president of marketing and customer solutions at iS5 Communications, to discuss the delicate balance of security versus functionality in the communications and power utility industries.

iS5 Communications, Inc. is a global provider of integrated services and solutions, and manufacturer of intelligent industrial ethernet products. Their products are designed to meet demand requirements of utility sub-stations, transportation, and industrial applications.

In the past decade, there’s been a rise in cyber threats on critical infrastructure, including power utilities, nuclear power, and wastewater utilities, Azarcon explained. “These all impact daily lives,” he said. “So it’s a narrow tightrope that we continuously walk on to ensure we don’t impact reliability and accessibility to the systems.”

Challenges often exist at the intersection of new technology processes and legacy infrastructure or systems. Automation helps mitigate these challenges, but shouldn’t be a completely hands-off solution.

“There’s a lot of degree of thought required to implement a proper system,” Azarcon said. “If you look at power utility customers, they do a lot of proof of concept before putting something into the production network. At the same time, there is technology that can help customers to automate better, but that’s not to say that you shouldn’t still do a proof of concept to ensure that the reliability is guaranteed to perform the way customers expect it to.”

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