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According to findings of the latest PwC B2B Energy Survey, 65% of UK businesses are significantly concerned about the issue of cyber-risks.The survey found that a further 51% of UK businesses are worried that their client data isn't handled with enough security by their energy supplier.

PwC's survey included feedback from more than 500 UK businesses, who noted that should their energy supplier fall victim to a cyber-breach, 57% of businesses and almost 70% of industrials would switch their supplier.

Steve Jennings, power and utilities leader at PwC, was reported saying, “Against a backdrop of technology innovation, privacy regulation, and the growing adoption of the Internet of Things, it's perhaps not surprising that UK businesses are concerned about cyber-threats."

He added: “With cyber-criminals able to turn off the supply tap as well as monetise data from energy firms' customers and employee digital records, the risk is clear and cannot be ignored.”

The professional services network company noted that cybersecurity and data privacy are increasingly becoming more recognised as risks to systems.

PwC recommendations

[quote] PwC has put forth several recommendations to enable smart energy suppliers to operate at a high level of cybersecurity maturity and give their customers the reassurance that their data and security supply is protected.

These include "reviewing incident response capabilities and how data breaches are managed, prioritising strategies for customer privacy by design and communicate how they are managing customer data to the general public, and only partner with trusted third parties and allowing only a small number of these smart devices to connect to their ecosystem."

SC Media UK explains that, "Many suppliers are now combining data from smart meters and connected home devices into a single data warehouse. While encryption is key to protecting this data, suppliers continue to rely heavily on security mechanisms provided by third parties, which bring uncertainty on the effectiveness of these mechanisms."

PwC also recommends that smart energy suppliers need to advocate for form of industry standard product assurance, which would allow suppliers to label their devices as “approved” and reduce their exposure to being left at fault if the customer adds “unapproved” devices to their network.

“With around a third of industrials and over a fifth of commercial organisations planning to spend more than £1 million on smart energy technology, the need for utilities – and smart technology suppliers in general – to get their cyber-house in order is vital,” said Niko Kalfigkopoulos, PwC cyber specialist. “Those organisations that react now with effective and transparent strategies will be the winners in the long run.

“This will not only help them in defending their own internal systems, it will also help improve the security of their connected home and smart technology offerings.”

 

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