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London: Responding to guidance from the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) on the security of critical national infrastructures (CNIs) of EU countries, Venafi says that encryption key management must form a central plank of any energy sector security strategy.


Calum MacLeod, EMEA Director with Enterprise Key and Certificate Management (EKCM) solutions specialist Venafi, says that, while ENISA made reference to encryption, cryptographic controls and managing authentication, the agency has not adequately addressed the specifics on key and digital certificate management.

“This is a bit like the security experts suggesting you beef up the locks on your front door, and then failing to point out that installing a cheap £2.99 lock from an online auction house may not be the best security strategy. The bottom line with defending country CNIs is that you cannot control - and document - the use of encryption and strong authentication without effective key and certificate management,” he said.

ENISA, he says, is advising that smart grids need to build security in from the ground upwards, using encryption and strong authentication tools such as digital certificates to secure data and access.

For smart grid providers, he adds, the only way to control and document these critical security elements – as requested by the European agency – is to deploy effective key and certificate management as an integral feature of the security architecture.

“This is especially true in the UK, based on the CNI architectures we have encountered. Effective key and certificate management is a must – and I strongly suspect that the Information Commissioner's Office will take the same view,” he added.

The Venafi EMEA Director went on to say that the UK's data regulator – which is now hitting its stride on best practices and guidance – will be looking to CNI security strategists to secure the UK's energy, communications and allied infrastructure networks

“Energy companies have progressively been deploying the end-user building blocks in UK's smart grid for several years now, as mandated by the Energy Act of 2008. The next few years will therefore set the pace for how the UK defends its CNI – installing the best security is a logical step towards this goal,” he said