Smart Grid Observer
Smart Grid Observer

N-Dimension Helps Benton Rural Electric Association Improve Its Cybersecurity Defenses


Source: Smart Grid Observer

November 30, 2016 -- N-Dimension Solutions recently announced that Benton Rural Electric Association (Benton REA) has adopted use of N-Sentinel Monitoring on its corporate network. N-Sentinel Monitoring is designed to provide round-the-clock vigilance in detection of suspicious activity and has helped the utility's IT staff by identifying potential cybersecurity issues and actions for them to take to reduce risk and fine tune their security posture.

Benton REA is a rural utility with headquarters in Prosser, Washington. They deliver power service to approximately 13,500 accounts in Benton and Yakima counties, with an average of seven customers per mile of distribution line. Benton REA is also an Internet Service Provider (ISP), delivering wireless broadband services to almost 1,000 customers, in addition to offering web hosting and website development, and PC/network consulting services.

With the significant escalation in cyber threats against utilities coupled with the fact the utility processes credit card payments on their corporate network, Jeff Bastow, IT manager, Benton REA, became concerned that more cybersecurity diligence was needed. He determined that to help his IT staff, he needed a solution to increase visibility and insights about potential cybersecurity issues and have access to cybersecurity experts that could provide them with one-on-one guidance on reducing risk. N-Sentinel Monitoring is designed to deliver these as a managed service specifically intended for utilities.

'N-Sentinel Monitoring identifies about 10% more cybersecurity issues than our firewall, which could be critical,' stated Bastow. 'In addition, it provides us with the insights and guidance we need to fine tune our firewall policies. It is a resource we rely on to help us keep cybersecurity risks in check.'

Bastow estimates a cyber attack used to hit the utility on average every 5 seconds but now sees the frequency has increased to an attack every second. While many of these attacks are not sophisticated and quickly thwarted by their firewall, he realizes that keeping his defenses up-to-date is key to reducing risk.

'Threat monitoring has evolved into a foundational cybersecurity building block essential for utilities of all sizes,' said Tom Ayers, president and CEO, N-Dimension. 'We offer this as a managed service to make it easy for any utility to deploy.'


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