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Utilities worker using a G2

Water Tight Security

Written by Nick Miller, Utilities Sector Manager UK & Ireland at Panasonic TOUGHBOOK

Water Tight Security

With heightened concerns around European national security, one major concern is the protection of critical national infrastructure. Contamination of a nation’s water supply or a cyberattack on the systems controlling the supply could quickly bring any country to a halt – causing potentially devastating health, environmental and economic harm.

The cyberattack on a water treatment plant in Florida earlier this year, where a hacker attempted to significantly raise the levels of chemicals being added to the water, only underlined the threat. Fortunately, the hacker was spotted, and their actions prevented before any harm was done. 

But the threat is certainly being taken seriously. In 2020, the EU committed €38m to projects for the protection of critical infrastructure against cyber threats via Project Horizon, the EU’s research and innovation programme. And it’s not just a government concern. For the Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2022 report, the World Economic Forum surveyed 120 senior cyber leaders to understand their concerns, both for their enterprises but also for themselves personally. When asked what they worried about personally, infrastructure breakdown due to a cyberattack was the number one concern.

Utilities worker using TOUGHBOOK 40

And this security awareness can be now seen running throughout the water utility organisations we deal with. Particular attention is being paid to the security of the individual mobile computing devices being used to install, monitor and maintain our critical infrastructure.

 

Android Enterprise or Microsoft Secured-core?

When looking for a secure rugged notebook, tablet or handheld, water companies have the fundamental choice between Android Enterprise or Microsoft Secured-core devices.

The Android Enterprise program, led by Google, streamlines the deployment of Android devices in corporate environments. It standardises device management for Android devices across different OEMs. Google has been investing heavily in the Android Enterprise operating system but there are some important factors to consider when choosing the right Android device for your business – particularly around security and updates. When businesses buy an Android Enterprise device for their mobile workforce, they are not dependant on just Google for patches and updates – but the device manufacturer as well. It is the manufacturer that must take the latest Android update and tailor it for its own devices.

Utilities worker using a TOUGHBOOK A3 with

That’s where a leading rugged manufacturer like Panasonic comes in. For those using our rugged Android devices, we are a partner in the Android Enterprise Recommended programme for devices and offer our own Panasonic COMPASS support – Complete Android Services and Security.

COMPASS is a portfolio of tools and services making it easy for you to configure, deploy, manage and secure your Panasonic Android devices. It provides the reassurance that your devices are both enterprise ready and secure for their entire operational life. COMPASS comprises of five essential elements but one of those, COMPASS Security, provides a complete support solution for TOUGHBOOK Android devices. The optional premium Security Service provides regular security patches for up to three years after product end of life and can be extended by an additional two years ensuring your mobile estate is fully protected for their service life. COMPASS Air also uses firmware over the air technology to provide firmware updates, security patches, system application upgrades and driver fixes direct your end users’ devices to deploy when, where and to which devices you choose.

 

For those water companies wanting a secure Windows device, then Microsoft Secured-core PCs are the way to go. A Secured-core PC is a modern Windows device that comes with the highest level of hardware, software and identity protection ready right out-of-the-box. It enables users to boot securely, protect their device from firmware vulnerabilities, shield the operating system from attacks and prevent unauthorised access to devices and data with advanced access controls and authentication systems. Panasonic’s TOUGHBOOK 55 rugged notebook and its leading rugged tablet, the TOUGHBOOK G2, are both Secured-core PC devices. The modular design of these devices also means that additional layers of security, such as smart card and fingerprint readers, can be easily integrated as required.

Lastly, balancing security and usability are also important considerations. For example, ensuring users can use their work device to access their own data and apps securely and easily, and separately from their work computing environment is something that the Android Enterprise OS can do. All Panasonic TOUGHBOOK devices are also designed for convenient use in the most testing of conditions – whether that’s outdoor screen visibility, customisable quick access buttons or hot swap battery capabilities to ensure a secure device is always available when required.

So, when it comes to the security of our water supply, top level mobile device security alongside easy usability look set to be the important considerations for the water industry for the foreseeable future.

Read more about the enhanced security features built into the TOUGHBOOK G2.

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