Fortress Information Security has launched the Asset to Vendor Network for Power Utilities (A2V), a joint venture with American Electric Power. A2V is designed to address concerns about protecting the U.S. power grid from cyber threats by promoting collaboration among electric companies. A2V will help reduce the costs associated with cybersecurity regulatory compliance in an effort to cope with budgetary limitations.
Power utilities share many of the same supply chain vendors for equipment, software and services for their Bulk Electric Systems (BES), an industry trait that has been identified by malicious actors and is resulting in an increasing number of attacks on the power grid.
To address emerging supply chain risks to the power grid, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued new rules that require utilities to develop a plan for managing cyber risk related to their supply chain. The plan includes procedures for prioritizing vendors based on risk and requirements for completing standardized risk assessments on each vendor, as well as verifying the authenticity of software manufacturers and the integrity of software updates.
The deadline for completion of the plan is currently June 2020. Utilities that fail to meet this deadline can face various levels of penalties, ranging as high as $1,000,000 per day.
The volume of supply chain vendors providing equipment, software, and services to power utilities makes the completion of this goal challenging and costly for individual companies, and ultimately their customers, as well as potentially burdensome for the vendors.
Fortress is launching A2V to share technology and information to support security efforts for these vendors. The technology and data basis for A2V were developed in collaboration with AEP and include a substantial library of completed vendor risk assessments that comply with the new regulations. Fortress, an experienced partner with a proven track record in cybersecurity, will operate the A2V platform.
Power companies who join A2V will be able to purchase vendor assessments for much less than it would cost for them to conduct the assessment themselves. Participating utilities also will be able to contribute their own completed assessments for purchase by the network and receive a portion of the proceeds. This will help them recover some of their investments in vendor assessments and help reduce overall operating and maintenance (O&M) costs associated with cyber security compliance.