The Energy Industry is Moving at Light Speed
Today’s energy and utility companies face a number of evergreen issues, from adhering to mandatory regulations and cybersecurity standards, to being at a higher risk of data breaches, the industry is constantly weathering a turbulent and rapidly accelerating environment.
To combat these risks and comply with regulations at a higher wattage, utilizing a secure file transfer solution like GoAnywhere Managed File Transfer (MFT) can be a game changer.
Read on for a look into some of the challenges energy companies are facing and how GoAnywhere MFT can help.
Challenge #1: Compliance
As the energy industry continues to grow greener, more sustainable, and more advanced at a high-speed rate, it has become subject to many regulations.
When it comes to addressing regulatory compliance, many energy companies have had to rethink their approach. This is due to factors like technological changes in operational functions, an increase in demand for clean renewable energy and energy-efficient solutions, and heightened consumer awareness.
It is now common for energy companies in a variety of different sectors to provide energy efficiency reports, sustainability reports, or other relevant data on a consistent basis to organizations across the world. Without meeting regulatory compliance requirements and the expected cybersecurity standards, energy companies may not be able to successfully do their jobs and could put themselves at a higher risk of data breaches.
The cost of non-compliance is also growing, with fines ranging from $300 thousand to $300 million over the past few years.
The key organizations many energy companies may need to comply with and provide data to are:
- Environmental laws and acts by state and region
- The Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX)
- The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
- The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- The United States Department of Energy (DOE)
- The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
- The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
- The International Energy Agency (IEA)
- The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC)
How GoAnywhere MFT Can Help
Compliance is pivotal for energy companies as they are often heavily regulated. Some are even subject to routine inspections. Following regulations and enforcing compliance can help to safeguard data, detect violations, and more.
GoAnywhere MFT knows that data security compliance is more vital than ever and can help energy and utility companies meet a variety of security standards by providing file transfer encryption technologies, file transfer monitoring, detailed audit logs for reporting, granular user permissions, and flexible options for sending files securely.
Related Reading: How to Help Ensure Compliance with Data Privacy Laws
Challenge #2: Cyberattacks
As the energy industry has continued to expand both its infrastructure and amount of data being transferred, it has become a prime candidate for cyberattacks.
According to a 2019 survey by Siemens and the Ponemon Institute on cyber threats in the energy and utilities sector, 56 percent of respondents reported at least one shutdown or operational data loss per year, while 25 percent were hit by a “mega attack usually initiated by nation-state actors.” The survey also reported that 54 percent of energy and utility companies expect an attack on critical infrastructure in the next 12 months.
With the stakes high, many energy companies are looking to increase their cybersecurity efforts in order to proactively protect both themselves and consumers from the disastrous consequences of a data breach.
How GoAnywhere MFT Can Help
A solution like GoAnywhere MFT isn’t just for sending files securely between users and systems, it’s also excellent at helping to combat rising cyberattacks.
GoAnywhere comes with a variety of features and modules that can be used to automate processes, ensure secure connections, track file transfer activity, and more.
Here a few key features that GoAnywhere has that can help energy companies avoid a devastating data breach:
- Data encryption – GoAnywhere can encrypt data both at rest and in transit. This extra line of defense helps to ensure that a company’s data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. The impact of a data breach can also be limited as the data cannot be decrypted without the appropriate key.
- File transfer automation – Energy companies can take advantage of file transfer automation to manage recurring or high-volume file transfers with the use of workflows, all while reducing or eliminating manual data processing and human error. Companies can monitor and control file movements, including sending, retrieving, and delivering data. With file transfer automation, companies can also schedule when files should be sent or retrieved between systems, users, trading partners, applications, or the cloud. Energy companies can also receive alerts when triggered events occur or if there was an error, which they can then test and debug.
- Extensive security controls – GoAnywhere supports role-based security and user two-factor authentication through SFTP. This helps to keep any unauthorized personnel or dangerous hackers out of sensitive areas.
As an extra layer of protection, Adaptive Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions can be of assistance too. Energy companies can minimize the risk of a data breach by automatically removing sensitive data from emails and documents as they are sent or transferred to and from the cloud. Adaptive DLP applies an additional layer of real-time sanitization to protect companies from phishing, ransomware, and other Advanced Persistent Threats.
Related Reading: Defending Against Data Breach
Challenge #3: Moving Sensitive Data
Along with complying with regulations and preventing data breaches, one of most beneficial renewable resources for energy companies is the ability to transfer sensitive and large files securely and seamlessly to those in the office, in the field, and key trading partners and/or vendors. However, this process hasn’t always been smooth sailing.
For instance, one thing to note about energy companies is that they are typically made up of both an IT (Information Technology - i.e., those in the office) and an OT (Operational Technology - i.e., those in the field) environment. Historically, the integration of the IT and OT environments was very risky due to the potential penetration of critical OT infrastructure from the outside world. However, with the maturing of cybersecurity and digital protection solutions, most energy and utility companies have started to integrate. Despite this, the information at play is still very sensitive and the companies must be as careful as possible to keep the data between the environments secure.
Another thing to note about energy companies is the number of vendors they often work with. For example, consider the number of different suppliers that exist in sectors like solar energy. Although it is a smaller part of the industry, companies usually work with a variety of suppliers – one for the panels, one for the support structures, one for the solar tracking, and one for the inverters. This is a lot of information that needs to be passed between quite a few different entities. The fact of the matter is that every individual third party may not share the same knowledge or understanding of cybersecurity best practices. Something like this can put the critical data of energy companies very much at risk.
A similar situation might exist with an energy or utility company that geographically distributes infrastructure across many sites, such as hundreds of plants across thousands of miles. This may make it difficult to maintain the peak level of security across both IT and OT environments.
How GoAnywhere MFT Can Help
GoAnywhere is an exceptional resource and solution when it comes to finding solutions to the challenge of moving sensitive data securely. It is a comprehensive solution that can manage any energy company’s file transfer software, file sharing, secure FTP, and automation needs through a single interface.
It also can connect to a wide variety of servers for exchanging data such as FTPS, SFTP, and AS2. Any company within the energy industry can use these servers to exchange data successfully and securely with external trading partners, clients, remote locations, vendors, and stakeholders – no matter how many are involved.
GoAnywhere is a flexible solution that can deployed on-premises, in the cloud on programs like Microsoft Azure and AWS or MFTaaS, or within hybrid environments. GoAnywhere also runs easily on platforms like Linux, Windows, AIX, the IBM i, and more.
It can even take care of any data translation needs an energy or utility company may have. With GoAnywhere’s assistance, data can be translated to/from a variety of popular formats without having to write cumbersome scripts or programs.
Energy companies can also expand upon GoAnywhere’s capabilities and take advantage of modules like:
- Secure Mail: This allows companies to send encrypted messages and files through email.
- Secure Folders: This gives trading partners and others quick access to authorized files and folders.
- Secure Forms: This allows companies to create custom forms to then send to users via a public or private URL.
GoAnywhere can even help when it comes to the challenge of securing the IT and OT environments by using MFT Agents. With MFT Agents, the IT/OT environments can connect in an automated fashion without compromising security between the layers of the infrastructure. Agents also allow the IT/OT environments to move the data along smoothly and securely to the next level.
A Secure DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) Gateway like GoAnywhere Gateway is also another option. This enhanced reverse and forward proxy gives energy companies an additional layer of security when exchanging data with trading partners. With Gateway, sensitive data can be kept safely inside a private network, without exposing critical IT/OT data. Files can then be shared securely with trading partners, users, clients, and vendors.
Related Reading: Do You Need an MFT Agent?
Related Reading: How Does the DMZ Impact Security?
How GoAnywhere Already Has Helped Energy Companies
GoAnywhere MFT has already found success in helping various energy and utility companies across the world, including the following examples:
- Example 1: As we have already discussed, energy companies are often heavily regulated. This energy customer in particular was subject to monthly inspections. Photos were taken at the time, put into a report, and mailed via thumb drive. This was not secure and took much longer than desirable, however, the files were too large to send by email.
- Example 2: This energy customer was responsible for sharing audio files with various destinations every day for compliance purposes. The audio files contained sensitive details like bank account and credit card details. However, they did not have a secure way to transfer these audio files – everything needed to encrypted and the files needed to be translated.
In this situation, the energy company was able to take advantage of Advanced Workflows and Secure FTP to get their large files delivered in a secure and timely manner. Secure Mail is another option they could also consider.
Related Reading: How to Send Large Files
With GoAnywhere’s help and the use of Secure Folders, this company was able to transfer their files in an encrypted fashion to every destination without losing any of the crucial data through transit. They were also able to meet the regulation they needed to comply with successfully.
Related Reading: 8 Surprising Ways to Use GoAnywhere’s Secure Folders Module