In “Setting New Standards for Integrated Security Systems,” a Solutions by Sector webinar presented by SECURITY and SDM, Keri Glitch, chief security officer at Iberdrola USA, discussed threats faced by energy companies today and the steps Iberdrola SA has taken to mitigate them.

Iberdrola Group, with headquarters in Spain, is one of the world’s largest energy companies, and a global leader in wind power. It employs nearly 31,000 people in more than 40 countries; and serves 32.3 million utility customers around the globe.

Iberdrola’s companies in the United States — which employ more than 5,000 people — provide renewable and thermal electricity generation; electricity transmission and distribution; natural gas storage and distribution; and renewable energy operations and energy services in 24 states, stretching from Portland, Ore., to Portland, Maine, and serving 2.4 million customers.

“My team, the corporate security group, is responsible for ensuring that Iberdrola can work securely anywhere in the world. Our primary responsibility is to guide our business partners to secure their assets through a risk-based approach, by mitigating four risks: reputational, compliance, financial and operational,” Glitch explained.

She highlighted the Industrial Control Systems Computer Event Response Team statistics of 2013, in which the energy industry had 59 percent of reported threats in 2013, an increase from 41 percent in 2012. “These trends, in addition to the executive order and presidential directives of 2013, led my company’s decision to take a strategic step and unify all security and compliance functions under one team. We also made a significant change to have this new organization report to a chief security officer, and we elevated the reporting structure to report directly to the chief executive officer,” Glitch described.

Glitch’s team at Iberdrola USA consists of three departments: cyber, physical and NERC compliance. “I personally feel very strongly that by unifying these teams, we are able to achieve superior results by taking a more holistic view of security and integrating both cyber and physical security to achieve our compliance requirements. This unification provides us the ability to identify and mitigate security risks across both cyber and physical assets and mitigate any identified vulnerabilities,” she added.

A unified incident management approach adds value to the business — not only during security incidents, but also during intelligence and threat gathering activities, Glitch said.

Iberdrola USA is regulated by both state and federal regulations, including FERC, NERC, and NERC CIP. Each of these regulations encompasses multiple categories of standards that energy companies such as Iberdrola USA must comply with. In the event that there is a compliance issue, Glitch said, there is a potential for significant penalties and fines; fines can range from $1,000 to $1 million per-item per-day.

One of the nine CIP standards, CIP-006, is intended to ensure the implementation of a physical security program for the protection of critical cyber assets, Glitch explained. It includes creating a physical security plan to protect critical assets; creating a “six-wall” physical security perimeter (PSP); installing physical controls for any access to the PSP; 27/7 monitoring/logging at all PSP access points; and more.

“As the team designed the new security system, they included the NERC CIP requirements, as well as the need to meet the Iberdrola global standards: reliability, redundancy or disaster recovery requirements, into the design parameters,” Glitch described.

Using a “risk-based characterization criteria,” Glitch’s team reviewed all physical sites, including occupied sites, such as energy control centers, data centers, walk-in customer payment offices, and general offices. It also reviewed critical electric substation sites, as well as natural gas gatehouses.

Based on the risk assessments and the physical security systems service offerings, the group was able to categorize each site based on risk. What developed became a “Deployment Standards Matrix,” in which they were able to define the physical security standards or service offerings and then assign them to a tier — such as tier 1 or tier 4 —based on risk.

“With this tiered security standards matrix, we were able to design an accelerated deployment program based on business risk, and present that to our executive team and board for approval. By taking this risk-based approach, we were able to take a very complex security system and translate it into a one-page matrix that someone at any level… could quickly review and understand.”

A short video embedded in the Solutions by Sector webinar showcases the physical security solutions that were subsequently implemented by G4S Technology for Iberdrola USA, highlighting three of its companies: Rochester Gas & Electric, New York State Electric & Gas, and Central Maine Power.

The system, which goes beyond the CIP requirements, features two security operations centers, supporting more than 120 locations. It encompasses more than 1,000 cameras, video analytics, 5,000 alarm points, 650 card readers, and much more. “Behind the impressive numbers is a multi-layer technology system that provides an extraordinary array of real-time information…” the video described.

According to G4S Technology’s Kevin Glynn, “I think what we’ve accomplished here is a high-level gold-standard security platform that they can use not just locally and nationally, but globally.”

“It will ensure that we have a reliable system, and a safe and security system for our Iberdrola USA customers,” Glitch said.

To view the webinar, click here