Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative picks N-Dimension for cybersecurity

N-Dimension Solutions, a managed security service provider with solutions that protect smart energy networks from cyber threats, announced Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative has deployed N-Sentinel Monitoring to help safeguard all of the utility’s IT and operations networks and data.

N-Sentinel provides the utility with insights into their network traffic to assure their piece of the power grid and member information remains safe and secure from cyber threats.

MVEC is a Minnesota-based distribution cooperative that delivers electric service to its 41,000 members across a 968-square mile service area.

The 4-member MVEC IT team is stretched thin with responsibility for supporting the communications and computing infrastructure and services for the utility’s 85 employees as well as the operations networks, which includes multiple smart grid applications such as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), outage management system (OMS), distribution automation (DA) and demand response.

The N-Sentinel Monitoring service is an extension of the IT team providing around the clock monitoring of the IT and OT networks, delivering timely threat intelligence and expert security guidance to help the utility reduce risk and improve their security posture.

“After reviewing how much cybersecurity insight N-Sentinel Monitoring provides, we realized we couldn’t afford to not subscribe,” said Jeff Hanson, Information Technology Supervisor, MVEC. “I would have to employ a full-time security analyst and invest in a range of additional tools to gain access to the valuable information and expertise I get with N-Sentinel.”

For example, early this year, there was a lot of chatter about Grizzly Steppe – the Russian civilian and military intelligence services (RIS) malware associated with a potential grid infiltration of a Vermont cooperative utility. The CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) alerted cooperative utility executives, including MVEC’s CEO, about the potential Grizzly Steppe threat. As a result, Hanson received an email from MVEC’s CEO inquiring how confident he was that their utility was protected from Grizzly Steppe and similar advanced persistent threats. Hanson responded by sharing with him the N-Sentinel Flash Alert, which included specific details about Grizzly Steppe.

Furthermore, Hanson informed MVEC CEO that he had contacted N-Dimension’s team of cybersecurity experts directly, and they verified there was no presence of Grizzly Steppe threat signatures identified on MVEC’s network, nor had any been found on the networks of other N-Dimension customers. Hanson indicated that this type of analysis in response to breaking threat news is a very effective and important element in MVEC’s security program.

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