UK firms ‘concerned about cyber-attacks on new energy tech’

Around two-thirds (65%) of UK businesses are concerned about cyber-attacks as new technologies like smart meters are being installed. According to a new PwC survey, 51% of more than 500 […]

By Priyanka Shrestha

Around two-thirds (65%) of UK businesses are concerned about cyber-attacks as new technologies like smart meters are being installed.

According to a new PwC survey, 51% of more than 500 UK businesses questioned are worried their client data isn’t handled securely enough by their energy supplier.

The concern comes as energy companies are in the process of installing smart meters in both domestic and business properties.

The survey also reveals three in five (57%) businesses and almost 70% of industrials would switch if their supplier fell victim to a cyber breach.

Around a third of industrials and a fifth of commercial organisations are said to be planning to spend more than £1 million on smart energy technology.

PwC says cybersecurity and data privacy are increasingly being recognised as risks to systems – from power stations to networks to smart meters.

It adds the growth of smart, connected technologies related to distributed generation, batteries, electric vehicles and smart heating and lighting exposes them to more threats from external attackers.

Steve Jennings, Power and Utilities Leader at PwC said: “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. With cyber criminals able to turn off the supply tap as well as monetise data from energy firm’s customer and employee digital records, the risk is clear and cannot be ignored.

“It’s vital that energy suppliers gain the confidence of their customers by clearly demonstrating their ability to not only identify innovative technologies but critically to enhance their cybersecurity capabilities to respond to a range of sector specific events that could increase vulnerability.”

PwC suggests suppliers to get third party assurance for cloud services to ensure they are effectively managing the risks to customer data, developing strategies for privacy and pushing for industry standard product assurance, which would allow them to label their devices as ‘approved’.