Why State and Local Agencies Should Consider Cybersecurity in Power Management – StateTech Magazine

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James Martin is the global connectivity product manager at Eaton. He has promoted Eaton’s software and connectivity solutions for the past nine years and built trusted technical adviser relationships with channel partners, field sales and sales operations.

James Martin is the global connectivity product manager at Eaton. He has promoted Eaton’s software and connectivity solutions for the past nine years and built trusted technical adviser relationships with channel partners, field sales and sales operations.
In a year where ransomware threats have increased dramatically and high-profile attacks have wreaked havoc, many in the public sector might be wondering if their current infrastructure can withstand what’s ahead.
Threat actors are becoming more sophisticated, and state and local governments must be vigilant to avoid potentially devastating attacks that could compromise critical services for those they serve.
At the same time, the rapid adoption of digital solutions across agencies creates more opportunities for enterprising attackers to identify vulnerabilities in nontraditional infrastructure and exploit them. One potentially overlooked area is power management, where increasing connectivity has paved the way for demonstrable gains in efficiency and disaster avoidance. However, this also calls for heightened cybersecurity awareness.
The acceleration of digital government services and distributed IT environments means government IT managers must take the necessary steps to protect infrastructure from devastating cyberattacks.
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State and local governments across the country are actively adopting digital technologies to improve services for citizens, leading many to make the shift from a traditional centralized approach to a distributed model that leverages multiple locations to support IT requirements. Meanwhile, at many agencies, IT teams are leaner than ever, while evolving demands make it increasingly necessary for staff to respond remotely in emergency situations. Gone are the days where all IT locations had the luxury of onsite support teams.
A trend running parallel to many of these developments is the growth of the Internet of Things. According to Business Insider, the number of IoT-connected devices will grow to 41 billion by 2027, up from approximately 8 billion in 2019. As this transformation unfolds, government institutions must consider the challenge these new endpoints will present for cybersecurity and ensure they’re protected across their expanding networks.
These related trends, both of which have accelerated amid the COVID-19 pandemic, require new approaches to power management and, in the case of IoT growth, actually impact power equipment itself.
More IT teams are deploying connected power management infrastructure, such as uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs), to allow remote monitoring and management that minimizes the need for onsite support staff. While devices like UPSs may not traditionally come to mind when institutions consider potential cyberthreats, the same could have been said for devices like HVAC units or internet-connected thermometers before they became targets for major attacks.
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The growing importance of cybersecurity has made it imperative for power management providers to consider cybersecurity when adding connected capabilities to power management devices. Here are a few ways state and local government IT managers can incorporate cybersecurity safeguards into their power management strategies.
Ultimately, state and local agencies and their respective IT teams should aim to build a comprehensive plan for protecting power equipment, similar to plans for other internet-connected systems. The best strategies strike a balance between investing in inherently secure products and taking ongoing measures to ensure equipment is up to date with the latest policies, procedures and assessments.
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As internet-connected devices continue to proliferate, the public sector will continue to adopt new technologies that optimize efficiency and streamline day-to-day operations.
Amid this technological transformation, cybersecurity and IT teams will have to keep tabs on industry developments to ensure power management equipment and other network-connected devices have the latest certifications.
As their journey toward protection evolves along with the IT landscape, agencies can work to stay ahead of the curve by implementing a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy — one that incorporates power management.
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