The energy sector is vital to almost every aspect of our everyday lives, not to mention relied heavily upon by every other major infrastructure and utility network in Australia too. Even a brief disruption or small security threat can wreak havoc at a local or regional level which is why securing our power facilities from physical breaches is imperative.
There are close to 115 energy providers in Australia, and there are several laws and acts to protect our energy, electricity and gas networks as well as several governing bodies such as Energy Networks Australia and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. But what all energy and power facilities have in common is that at the core of nearly every physical security plan is a set of locking devices used to control user access. From padlocked gates at sub-stations and remote sites, to doors, cabinets and even server racks, all power utilities rely on locking devices or master key systems throughout their facilities. However, not all locks and systems are created equal or suit every application.
The most significant vulnerabilities to power facilities are the fact that they have assets and buildings that are geographically spread out, often in remote locations, and are exposed to the elements.
Take a substation facility for example. They are home to generators, transformers, circuit lines and more, and are generally the place where high voltage electricity is lowered so it can be supplied safely to local homes and businesses. Despite being a highly crucial and valuable site, often substations are located in remote areas with little to no onsite security or personnel thus leaving them susceptible to vandalism, break ins or even tampering. All of which could result in a disastrous event if power supply was interrupted.
The access control system chosen to secure such a facility would need to not only be able to withstand the elements be it rain, dust or sea salt and be compatible with a wide variety of locking hardware that extends further than your cabled, hardwired door such as padlocks and cabinet locks. But it would also need to be able to grant access to a wide variety of users without compromising the system.
A traditional mechanical master key system would be an ideal entry-level security option as they offer a wide variety of options, appealing price point and are easy to install. However, they lack accountability and there is no way of tracking who has access to what lock and who was where and when. Not to mention the risks associated with a lost or stolen key. A single rogue key has the ability to undermine an entire organisations physical security.
Likewise with an electronic master key system, they have many features that a power facility would benefit from including the added accountability of being able to track and schedule access control. However, the cost and time associated with installing a hardwired access control system is notably higher than a mechanical system and given the need for network access and cables, and the locations and environments in which a lot of power facility locks exist it wouldn’t be a practical solution.
Enter EKA CyberLock — the leading fully electronic electro-mechanical master key system. CyberLock combines the precision and high-security of an electronic access control system with the affordability and ease of a mechanical system making it an ideal solution for power facilities.
CyberLock cylinders retrofit into most applications including padlocks which means securing remote assets like a power substation is easy, no cabling or wiring necessary. All CyberLock padlock cylinders are also IP68 rated and were designed with the harsh effects of the weather and elements in mind and can withstand temperatures as low as -40 degrees and as high as 70 degrees.
The advanced technology of CyberKeys and CyberLock communicators are the reason why cabling isn’t necessary. The batteries in these keys and communicators are what powers a CyberLock or cylinder upon connection. What’s more is that a CyberKey can also be programmed to open a specific lock for a specific amount of time making them perfect for one-time users such as contractors. And, if a CyberKey is lost it can simply be removed from the system rendering it useless and no longer a threat to security.
[i] Company name has been changed for security purposes.
UPT Co[i], a power facility company, are one of the latest businesses to install a CyberLock master key system. Their current system’s patent had expired and after an audit it was identified that they had over three hundred missing or unidentified keys which resulted in Martin Johnson, the newly appointed Asset and Audit Administrator, acting swiftly and deciding to implement a new master key system. That system was EKA CyberLock.
Starting with 30 CyberKeys, 20 padlocks and several door locks, Martin and a small selection of employees conducted a successful three month trial of CyberLock before rolling it out across the entire company. “UPT Co now have over 1500 CyberKeys for approximately 1200 electronic lock cylinders on gates, doors and padlocks” says Martin, “We have gone from a traditional master key system that has failed our security requirements and implemented EKA CyberLock.”
UPT Co have hundreds of facilities and substations that they need to secure including two asset sites in which they share fifty substations with another power network. UPT Co manage the site and therefore need to grant access to the facility to other network employees and contractors. To make this transition and process easier they installed two CyberLock ValidiKey 20-key Vaults which house CyberKeys specifically for short term use.
“Previously a CyberKey used to sit in a desk drawer for months before it was needed to be used which meant the batteries could be flat and the latest lock lists and permissions were not loaded – all of which prevented people from accessing the site. With mission keys removed from the 20-key vault, batteries are fully charged, latest lock lists are loaded, and using a test lock they can check to ensure the CyberKey will give access as required before they leave the area. If there are any issues we can rectify them on the spot by making any required changes” said Martin.
Furthermore, UPT Co are currently transitioning to the latest CyberKey Blue3 keys with the CyberAudit Link smartphone application for practically real time audit trail and access control anywhere across Australia.
To read a more detailed account of the UPT Co case study, click below.
SYDNEY • MELBOURNE • BRISBANE • PERTH • ADELAIDE • AUCKLAND