Power firms asked to adopt cyber security rules

Regulations will help power sector become resilient to cyber-attacks, prevent losses

Nabil Tahir March 18, 2023


National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) Chairman Tauseef H Farooqi, while underlining the urgency of situation, has emphasised that cyber security regulations must be applied by all power-sector companies.

He pointed out that the regulations would help Pakistan’s power companies become more resilient to cyber-attacks, reduce operational downtime and prevent losses.

He was speaking at the first-ever Operational Technology (OT) Cyber Security Conference (OTCSEC) on Thursday, which was organised by ACET Solutions, a leading provider of automation and cyber security solutions for critical infrastructure companies.

The event, inaugurated by President Arif Alvi, featured experts from the world’s largest cyber security technology vendors, including Fortinet, who underscored the need for Pakistan to secure its OT/ industrial control systems (ICS), which are responsible for controlling physical equipment in electricity grids, water plants, oil and gas plants, mining, manufacturing, transportation, and other critical infrastructure or industries.

In his virtual keynote address, President Alvi underlined the significance of cyber security as a national priority for the survival of the nation. He highlighted the need to invest in skills and young people to safeguard civilisation.

The ongoing Ukraine war and the jamming of petrol supply in the US East Coast by attacking devices explained the importance of OT/ ICS Cyber Security Conference.

The conference targeted the critical infrastructure owners and operators, and brought together industrial clients, experts, and policymakers to discuss and address the challenges of OT/ ICS.

The objective was to provide a platform for stakeholders to share their knowledge, experiences, best practices, and solutions for improving the security of critical infrastructure.

The conference came at a crucial time for Pakistan, following the nationwide electricity blackout in January that was believed to have been caused by an attack by a foreign hacking group. The incident underscored the vulnerability of Pakistan’s critical infrastructure and the need to invest in OT/ ICS cyber security.

The president and other speakers cited that as a wake-up call for the country to take urgent measures to secure OT/ ICS.

Fahad Faisal, Fortinet BDM, Middle East, expressed support for Pakistan’s growth in cyber security resilience, highlighting the role of private sector in advancing OT/ ICS cyber security.

He called for forging public-private partnerships to drive innovation and collaboration in cyber security solutions.

ACET Solutions CEO Mubarik Mustafa reiterated the company’s commitment to supporting Pakistan’s journey in protecting critical infrastructure as the largest OT security services company in the region.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2023.

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