This article was adapted from the Climate Tech Weekly newsletter delivered on Wednesdays.
Attivo Networks. Dragos. Rangeforce. Swimming pool. If you choose the portfolio list for Energy Impact Partners (EIP), you will find a wide range of climate technology start-ups – and at least nine ventures with a central focus: securing digital and physical networks.
EIP’s latest investment in this category, Corelight, is a specialist in network registration and response – working with some of the world’s largest Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and research institutions. Given the EIP’s main supporters – mainly utilities and electricity companies, but also some industrial actors such as Enterprise Holdings (yes, the car rental company) – makes sense to decide to lead the $ 75 million Corelights Series D in early September.
After all, energy is the next frontier for hacking incidents and cyber attacks. It’s not just a matter of trade and convenience, it’s a matter of national security. Just ask Colonial Pipeline CEO Joe Blount, forced to close its 5,500-mile natural gas pipeline for five days this spring following a ransomware incident that triggered fuel shortages throughout the southeastern United States
“We knew we had a threat, and we knew the threat needed to be covered. And so we shut down the pipeline to do so,” Blount said during a recent speech on his company’s response. “There were not enough details to know if it was outside the IT system, if it hit [operational technology] system, whether we had any physical risk on the pipeline at that time. “
By creating ownership [of the challenge] but by gaining visibility and strengthening security teams, we can only reach this complexity.
As the world shifts to renewable energy – and to an increasingly distributed network – there is a growing understanding of the vulnerability of these systems. “Having a very forward-thinking security position is going to be table sticks,” EIP partner Shawn Cherian told me as we chatted about developments last month. “When we survey our partners about priorities, security is almost one of the top three topics.”
According to data cracked by TechCrunch, venture funding for cybersecurity entrepreneurs grew to $ 11.5 billion in the first half of this year – more than double what it was during the first six months of 2020. Improving cybersecurity for ” critical infrastructure “is also a major focus for President Joe Biden, who issued a statement marking Cybersecurity Awareness Month (yes, this month).
“Our 100-day action plan to improve cybersecurity across the electricity sector has already resulted in more than 150 utilities serving 90 million Americans committing to implement cybersecurity technologies, and we are working to implement action plans for additional critical infrastructure sectors,” he said. he wrote.
Increasingly, security considerations – for both digital and physical assets – must become a consideration for climate technology and green infrastructure. Do you remember all the CO2 capture plants and pipelines proposed under the still pending U.S. infrastructure bill? They are leading candidates for major investments in cybersecurity. Ditto wind turbines and solar panels.
The pandemic helped bring these issues to the fore, said Leo Simonovich, vice president and global head of industrial cyber and digital security at Siemens Energy, as we chatted last week. Cyber could become “the big showstopper”, the major barrier to the adoption of technologies ranging from cloud computing to smart controls, he suggested.
“Many operators do not know how vulnerable they are,” Simonovich told me. “By creating ownership [of the challenge] but by gaining visibility and strengthening security teams, we can only reach this complexity. “
As companies seek to enable data flow from the wellhead to the transformer station – and technicians are asked to perform and handle tasks such as. Logging in to wind farms from their homes – energy companies and investors must combine security with the need for better visibility in energy assets. And the sooner climate-tech startups build security considerations into their core development issues, the better.