EUTC and EE-ISAC event at the European Parliament

Cybersecurity for critical infrastructure: are we moving the right way and what is needed to face the challenge?


European Parliament, Brussels, October 25, 2022 – MEP Pilar DEL CASTILLO, member of ITRE committee and rapporteur of Data Act has invited the European Commission, EE-ISAC (European Energy Information Sharing & Analysis Centre) and EUTC (European Utilities Telecom Council) to debate on what is needed to build a cyber secure and resilient European critical infrastructure.

While the European Union celebrates the 10th edition of the European Cyber Security Month, the uncertain geopolitical situation worries policy makers and utilities about the readiness of Europe to prevent and respond to  cyber-attacks in order to secure the provision of energy, especially in the winter period.

The event comes right after the Summit at the Council of the European Union where policy makers are deciding about the strategy to achieve energy independence, focusing on electrification, gas diversification, and acceleration of penetration of renewables. Hence, critical infrastructures have more than ever become central, and as such, more exposed to cyber threats. European institutions and all players involved must join forces and develop a common strategy for a strong ecosystem, improving information and knowledge sharing among the main stakeholders, a critical success factor  to prevent cyber-attacks to the European Energy industry.

Moderator Luca Selva (ianusGroup) opened the event, giving the floor to keynote speakers  Aurelio Blanquet, Secretary General of EE-ISAC and Prof. Stephan Lechner, Director of the Euratom Safeguards at DG ENER, European Commission. Konstantinos Moulinos from ENISA (European Union Agency for Cybersecurity) provided an update on the Energy Threat Landscape, including the main cyber incidents which have interested the European energy industry in 2022. This set the scene for a high-level panel discussion involving the European Commission’s Directorate-Generals for Energy (DG ENER) and Connectivity (DG CONNECT), and representatives from utilities. The event was closed by Dr. Andreas Breuer, Chair of EUTC.

“The current energy market situation urging for an ambitious integration of clean technologies has unquestionably exposed the high dependency of the safely energy transit on the grid critical telecommunications and on cybersecurity”, said Aurelio Blanquet, Secretary General of EE-ISAC. “Information Sharing and close Cooperation are of utmost relevance for the acceleration of knowledge, the coordination of decisions and the effectiveness of complementary actions to avoid locking our energy system with cybersecurity threats”.

Aurelio Blanquet, EE-ISAC

The European Commission has stressed in its interventions the importance of strengthening risk assessment activities, information sharing and compliance among the main actors. In this respect, EUTC and EE-ISAC take the opportunity to celebrate the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding among the 2 associations.

“It was an excellent collaborative event and the effort from telcos, energy utilities and cyber security experts in this forum was a superb example of how several sectors need to work together to defeat the ‘bad actors’ who exist in the cyberspace. The decarbonisation of the energy sector is essential to avoid the worst consequences of climate change and with this comes a huge increase in the amount of connectivity and attack surface for utility networks. It is essential that we collaborate to share best practice across the telecommunications and utility sectors”.

Julian Stafford, EUTC

Participants coming from all over the world got the opportunity to raise questions to the speakers during the networking cocktail that has taken place after the event.

About EE-ISAC

The European Energy – Information Sharing & Analysis Centre (EE-ISAC) is an industry-driven, information sharing network of trust. EE-ISAC enables the European utility industry to benefit from an open dialogue with industry partners and suppliers, share real-time data & analysis within small scale trust-circles, learn from experiences with grid security incidents & breaches, evaluate security solutions from both a technical & operational viewpoint.

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About EUTC

EUTC is the European Utilities Telecom Council, which represents organisations involved in telecommunications for critical infrastructure. The not-for-profit association gathers European utilities form different European countries, and has developed programs which are led and designed by Europeans, and uniquely European in focus.

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Media contacts

EE-ISAC: Alice Marinelli, alice@ianusgroup.com

EUTC: Sabrina Hastings Mela, shastingsmela@eutc.org

EUTC at RSPG Workshop on Mobile Technology Evolution and 6G Development

On 20-21 September 2022, EUTC has attended a Workshop from the Radio Spectrum Policy Group, the high-level advisory group that assists the European Commission in the development of radio spectrum policy. The meeting took place in Brussels, Belgium, and was attended by EUTC Spectrum Group Manager Adrian Grilli and EUTC member Vincent Audebert.

The presentation held by EUTC can be found below.

EUTC Annual Event

On 9-10 November 2022, EUTC has organised its first Annual Event in Lisbon, Portugal. Over the course of two days, EUTC members and other stakeholders from the utilities telecom sector met in personat the Oceanário de Lisboa to mark the yearly meeting of the association and to discuss the future of utilities telecommunications in Europe.

The event also marked the occasion to celebrate the launch of the first EUTC book, “Utilities Telecommunications in a Nutshell”, written by EUTC Secretary General Julian Stafford, along with EUTC Board member Alberto Sendin and Spectrum Group Manager Adrian Grilli.

Over the two days, participants had the chance to network during coffee break and meal times, where sponsor and new member booths could be visited. On the evening of 9 November, a Networking Dinner also took place.

 The event was supported by Axians, Ericsson, HPE and ZTE.

Sessions

The event opened with a keynote speech by Aurelio Blanquet, E-REDES, Honorary member of EUTC, and continued with a panel discussion titled “EUTC Global Dialogue”, setting the scene to present EUTC and its global presence and synergies.

In the early afternoon, EUTC members gathered for its 2022 General Assembly, in which the activities of the year have been presented, as well as possible opportunities for 2023.

The event continued with a presentation from the first sponsor of the event, HPE, represented by Rene Tonon, OSS Master Solution Architect, and was followed by the 3GPP Task Force meeting, led by Erik Guttman from Samsung. The Task Force was launched at the start of 2022 and had its first in-person meeting during the EUTC Annual Event.

In the evening, a Networking Dinner was organised in the historical center of Lisbon, where Pedro Tercero Lozano from Ericsson presented the company’s portfolio for Mission Critical Networks Business Readiness.

“One of the key segments for Westermo Network Technologies is Energy distribution. Westermo can provide products for many use cases such as Smart grid and Grid automation applications. Product portfolio includes switches/routers and LTE routers.”
Pierre Öberg, Business Development Manager Global OEM’s, Westermo“In tandem with falling bandwidth costs, Global Skyware’s new VSAT IoT and SCADA platform exemplifies the enhanced security, reliability, and performance attributes generating a surge in demand for satellite connections to onshore and offshore utility infrastructure.”
-Dr Gavin Cox, Antenna Engineer, Global Skyware
“Chronos Technology Ltd were excited to present at the EUTC conference in Lisbon, discussing our long history in Telecom timing solutions and our expertise in GNSS, it’s vulnerabilities and timing network design. We’re looking forward to working with the EUTC and its affiliates in the future.”
Chris Boulton, Technical Sales Specialist, Chronos Technology”The GE CIC business has the DNA of a company that has been dedicating its resources, skills and commitment to support the Global Utilities Sector for decades. We have established a path that enables us to bring new solutions and integrated proposition to the market to make the “Smart Grid” a reality”
Giovanni Puppo, Regional Sales and Business Development Leader, General Electric
“EMR Integrated Solutions is a specialist OT communications, SCADA and instrumentation solutions provider.  We design, deliver and support mission-critical core networks based on technologies such as DWDM, MPLS-TP and secure edge networks incorporating fibre, microwave, satellite and cellular mobile technologies.”
Alan Feenan, Sales Director, EMR Integrated Solutions
Focus on: Axians
“Axians presented its journey in the world of utility telecommunication networks, with a special focus on an ongoing project in Qatar. Participants were shown the company’s capabilities and challenged to collaborate in the development of new use cases.”
Afonso Silva, Business Developer, Axians
EUTC members strategy meeting
On Thursday 10 November, EUTC members participated in a facilitated discussion aimed at sharing what topics the association should prioritise. The Board has summarised the information collected, which will steer EUTC’s strategy in 2023. Below, a summary of inputs received:



1. KNOWLEDGE SHARING EUTC members wish to increase knowledge sharing through a dedicated platform

 2. STANDARDISATION EUTC to continue developing work in 3GPP, standards & ecosystem for MSO, engaging in discussions around 6G, ITU and CEPT

 3. CYBERSECURITY Members wish to focus on cybersecurity for OT systems and increase know-how sharing on NIS2

 
4. RADIO TELECOM EUTC to explore novel satellite solutions and investigate testing and homologation for utilities in this field
Focus on: ZTE
“Utilities can take advantage of the evolution of core features like slicing and service-oriented architectures, to build the 2G/3G/4G/5G private networks to manage their infrastructure. ZTE explained the technology available today and urged utilities to be bolder on building private networks. E-Redes took this bold step with ZTE.”
Victor Pascual, CTO Spain and Portugal, ZTE

EUTC at Critical Communications World in Vienna, Austria

From 21 to 23 June 2022, Critical Communications World took place in Vienna, Austria. The event is organised by the Critical Communications Association (TCCA), and therefore gathers all types of stakeholders involved in standard mobile critical communications technologies and complementary applications. EUTC was present, speaking in conference sessions and hosting an in-person meeting of the 3GPP Working Group.

Critical Communications World 2022 took place in Vienna, Austria, at the beginning of the summer. As in-person events start taking place again around the world, EUTC is glad to get actively involved in them.

On 22 June, Julian Stafford, EUTC Secretary General participated in a panel discussion titled “Impact of decarbonisation on the mission critical communications needs of non-PPDR sectors”, touching upon how the power, oil and gas sector will need mission critical communications to foster their decarbonisation. On the same day, EUTC’s Spectrum Group Manager Adrian Grilli delivered a presentation on “The evolving needs of the utility sector”.

On Thursday 23 June, EUTC also facilitated the hosting of an informal 3GPP Task Force in-person meeting, the first since the group’s kick-off in March this year. The meeting was a success in terms of attendance, and led to interesting discussions led by Erik Guttmann, from Samsung.

Critical Communications World was an occasion for EUTC to mark its presence abroad and continue the ongoing work with all different stakeholders involved in utility telecommunications.

Check the recordings of some interesting sessions here:

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Critical infrastructure cybersecurity: what to expect?

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: How to standardise 5G

Panel discussion on climate change

Saudi Arabia roadmap for specialised network radio licence in the 450 MHz band

Impact of decarbonisation on the mission critical communications needs of non-PPDR sectors

The evolving needs of the utility sector

FOCUS ON RAILWAYS: THE FUTURE OF RAILWAY COMMUNICATIONS: 10 min presentations + discussion

Private LTE 450 MHz for Oil & Gas Remote Wells

GAGV Session: Critical Communications Updates from Around the World

Reply from the European Commission to the Parliamentary questions on “Fostering the deployment of smart grids” by MEP Pilar Del Castillo

On November 2021, the Spanish Member of the European Parliament Ms Pilar Del Castillo from the EPP Group, submitted a list of questions to the European Commission concerning the undergoing policy around the deployment of smart grids in the EU.

The main points of the questions concerned the permeation of digital technologies in the energy sector, namely the support that access to radio spectrums can provide to the development of smart grids, an essential tool to foster the energy transition.

The questions received a written reply from the cabinet of Mr Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship & SMEs. The full text of the questions and official written reply can be read here.

The EUTC Board of Directors is grateful towards Ms del Castillo for supporting this necessary advocacy activity to allow the main European key players from the telecommunications sector to accelerate the works to achieve a digitalised and carbon-neutral Europe.

Per rule 138 of the European Parliament, the policymaking process of the European Union allows Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to submit questions for written answer to the European Commission – for which an official written reply must be provided within a period of six weeks. MEPs often engage with stakeholders from civil society in order to submit questions that address their needs.

The European Utilities Telecom Council and the European Energy Information Sharing and Analysis Centre sign Partnership Agreement

Brussels, Belgium – On 30 May 2022, the European Utilities Telecom Council (EUTC) and the European Energy Information Sharing and Analysis Centre (EE-ISAC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aiming to reinforce the cyber resilience of critical infrastructures in Europe.  and practices.

With this Agreement of Cooperation, EUTC and EE-ISAC demonstrate their commitment to exchanging information related to cyber threats, and reports of intrusion events, as well as sharing best practices for protecting sensitive information and identifying critical asset classes and methodologies.

EE-ISAC is the result of multidisciplinary cooperation reached in Europe by private operators, service providers, academia and (non-) governmental agencies, with the mission of strengthening resilience through information sharing within a community of over 30 members. Activities include sharing information on the evolution of the threat to energy infrastructures and sharing of best practices and innovative initiatives in the context of the protection of networks, industrial systems and operational technology.

“We strongly believe that this new connection represents a valuable opportunity to reinforce the cyber security network in Europe as a whole”

Massimo Rocca, Interim Chairman of EE-ISAC

EUTC is a non-profit association, which concentrates on 6 areas of expertise which range from Smart Grid, Telecom & Utilities, Digitalisation further to Cybersecurity. Within this field, they not only research and contribute to the latest trends, but also actively interact directly with the ever-changing energy grid field users. These include the vendor supply chain, the utility community itself, and the regulators at the national as well as EU level.

“ This is a key opportunity for developing joint approaches to the ever-evolving cyber security challenges which we all face. EUTC members operate systems classed as critical infrastructure and as such have the highest levels of physical and cyber security in place. However, as EU utilities work to decarbonise and digitalise the energy sector to meet the UN climate change objectives, the attack surface in their networks expands significantly. The interconnected nature of telecommunications and energy supply has never been more apparent and impacts every aspect of our daily lives – making resilience and security essential at every level.”

Julian Stafford, Secretary General of EUTC

The Partnership, therefore, offers the two organisations the opportunity to further strengthen their common interest in attaining further reliability and security of electric power systems. Together, EUTC and EE-ISAC allow sharing information between more than 40 stakeholder groups by therefore enhancing the organisations’ cyber security posture.

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About EE-ISAC
European Energy Information Sharing & Analysis Centre is an industry-driven, information sharing network of trust. Private utilities, solution providers and (semi)public institutions such as academia, governmental and non-profit organizations share valuable information on cyber security and cyber resilience in the European Energy industry.
For more information, please visit 
www.ee-isac.eu. For media inquiries, please contact contact@ee-isac.eu.

EUTC Spectrum Group Meeting on 12 May 2022 in Paris, France

The Radio Spectrum Policy Group meetings come in the framework of EUTC facilitating the debate over the necessity of harmonised radio spectrum allocation for utilities and critical infrastructure companies operating in Europe. EUTC’s work in the area of radio spectrum allocation policy includes contributing to the European Commission’s EU Radio Spectrum Policy Group and to the European Parliament’s Radio Spectrum Policy Plan.

On 11 and 12 May 2022 EUTC Members met for the first time after the pandemic for a Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) meeting in Paris, France. The meeting had over 20 attendees coming from within EUTC and external organisations as well, and was hosted at the EDF Research&Development premises in the Saclay area, located in southern Paris.

On the evening of 11 May, the Secretariat and Board of EUTC visited EUTC Member General Electric representatives in their Massy (Paris) premises, for a short informal meeting. In the evening, an opening dinner before the meeting took place, where all EUTC members attending the meeting were present.

On Thursday 12 May, the Radio Spectrum Policy Group meeting took place in the morning, hosted by EUTC member EDF at their Research&Development facility. Attendees listened to a presentation by Mr Adrian Grilli, Spectrum Group Manager of EUTC and discussed together their requirements for radio spectrum allocation. Mr Eric Fournier, Chairman of the Radio Spectrum Policy Group of the European Commission, presented the single situations in each of the EU countries concerning radio spectrum for utilities, given the different address each Member State gave to it. After lunch, EDF took meeting attendees for a tour of their research premises.

The EUTC would like to thank all participants for attending the meeting in person or online, and EDF for hosting it.

Member interview – EMR Integrated Solutions

EMR Integrated Solutions has joined EUTC in January 2022. We had a chat with Alan Feenman, Sales Director, to hear about their activities and how they see their participation in EUTC.

Can you provide a brief background to EMR’s activities and objectives?

With headquarters in Ireland and a project delivery arm in the UK, EMR Integrated Solutions is a specialist OT communications, SCADA and instrumentation solutions provider.  We design, deliver and support mission-critical core networks based on technologies such as DWDM, MPLS-TP and secure edge networks incorporating fibre, microwave, satellite and cellular mobile technologies.  Our clients include household names such as ESB, SSE, NPg, Western Power Distribution, Northern Ireland Electricity, and renewables companies such as Greencoat.  With over 40 years systems integration experience and 24/7 managed services, EMR helps utility customers to ensure that their communications networks can deliver the required operational data in a secure and timely manner. 

In what ways do EMR’s objectives align with the goals of EUTC and the rest of its members?

Our raison d’être is to help energy providers deliver a smarter, greener power grid for their customers. We take utility providers on a digital transformation journey, enabling the migration of legacy networks to secure IP-based communications systems, which provide the type of high-performance, data-driven intelligence required to promote greater energy efficiency across the grid.  More robust cyber security also plays a key role in our philosophy of building network architecture for next generation utility providers.

Alan Feenan, Sales Director with EMR Integrated Solutions

Why has EMR decided to join EUTC?

Our main objectives in joining EUTC centre are networking and knowledge sharing.  Like other EUTC members, we face common challenges such as spectrum allocation and cyber security.  These are burning issues for us and our clients, and through the EUTC we use the power of the collective to gather information and learn, and in turn share our real world experiences with the community at large.  As we are based on a small island on the periphery of Europe, being able to tap into that European experience through EUTC members is vital for us.

What is EMR’s vision on how utilities telecom can help foster a net zero carbon Europe?

EMR is committed to a net zero carbon Europe.  But these aren’t empty words.  It’s about leading by example and they must be backed by action.  That’s why we have taken concrete steps to ensure that as an organisation EMR will meet its target of net zero carbon footprint by 2030.  Practical actions such as replacing ageing vehicles in our fleet with hybrid and electric models, as well as insisting that our supply chain aligns itself to a net zero carbon future have already been taken. We are very encouraged by the increasing number of organisations across industry who insist on their suppliers sharing their net zero carbon approach to business.

The energy trilemma comes back to bite!

Suddenly, the much talked about ‘energy trilemma’ has been given renewed impetus.

Carbon emissions and climate change, highlighted by the COP26 Conference in November 2021 have now given additional focus on renewable energy as Europe rushes to replace Russian oil and gas.

The resulting eye-watering increases in energy costs for consumers and industry are leading to increased poverty in the hardest hit parts of our communities, together with rising inflation and challenges to European industries to remain competitive in global markets where other regions have access to cheaper energy supplies.

All the while, energy security is under the dual focus of loss of dispatchable and storable fossil fuels and high profile cyber attacks.  These include the collapse of the Vodafone network in Portugal after a hacking operation, disabling of thousands of modems though an attack on the management plane of the ViaSat network, and reports of the Israeli Pegasus Software being infiltrated into UK Government Electronic Devices to spy on high profile politicians.

Credits: React2020 Project

These events throw a spotlight on the need for utilities to have access to highly available and extremely secure operational telecoms networks to monitor and control their increasingly dynamic energy networks.  With intermittent renewable energy sources being connected at all levels of electricity transmission and distribution networks, often in remote locations, the challenge in managing the electricity networks on a second-by-second basis has never been more pressing.

EUTC Groups, Policy Papers and responses to consultations by public bodies seek to explain the complex technical requirements for these services in readily understandable terms, drawing attention to the urgency of the task.  Access to suitable spectrum for dedicated radio systems is vital in some instances, but a wealth of technology is needed, ideally using ecosystems aligned to international standards to ensure the lowest cost to consumers of delivering the services.  This also provides a large and consistent market for European Manufacturers as a springboard to address world-wide markets.

EUTC recognises that these challenges are too great for any individual organisation or association to resolve alone.  Collaboration is the right way to proceed.  This was well illustrated at a recent joint conference on Cybersecurity Standardisation with ENISA, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI which produced some excellent graphical illustrations of these challenges, one of which is reproduced below.

Credits: Maria Foulquie, 15 March 2022

EUTC at the UTCAL Summit 2022 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

From 29 March to 1st April 2022, the UTCAL Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event is organised by UTC Latin America (UTCAL) and is namely the biggest gathering of the utilities telecommunications sector of the region.

EUTC Secretary General Julian Stafford with fellow panellists at the UTCAL Summit 2022

The first in-person UTCAL Summit after the beginning of the pandemic took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the first weeks of Spring. EUTC was present at the event, represented by our Secretary General Julian Stafford. The 2022 edition gathered more than 600 participants coming from the utility telecommunications sector worldwide, including Government policy makers and regulators from both energy and telecommunications sectors.  114 speakers addressed a range of topics in plenary and four parallel streams in over 60 different sessions in Portuguese, Spanish and English with translation facilities provided

Julian Stafford presenting on 30 March 2022

Julian Stafford participated on a panel on 30 March titled “Telecommunications Technologies for the Modernization of Utilities“, discussing all the applications that different technologies may have in the development of smart grids in order to make them future proof. On 31st March, he also participated in a second panel, called “Technological Evolutions on LTE Networks“, during which LTE solutions for different frequencies were presented, together with Mr Gosta Kallner of the 450MHz Alliance and others.

The event provided important networking opportunities for all its attendees, and generated high-level debates on fundamental topics of the current moment, such as cybersecurity, Internet of Things and private networks.

Networking cocktails at the UTCAL Summit 2022

The UTCAL Summit is an occasion for EUTC to mark its presence abroad and outside of Europe, something that will help set the scene for further collaborations with UTCAL.