South Australia’s electricity journey started back in 1885, when J.W.H Hullet became the first person to light a private residence through what was known as a hydro-electric plant. It wasn’t until 1897 that the South Australian Parliament passed a bill to form a privately owned electricity company to generate and transmit power to the Port Adelaide area. Fast forward to 1998, the then South Australian Premier, John Olsen, announced the privatisation of the Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA). The subsequent separation and sale saw the establishment of ElectraNet. The distribution network retained the name, trading under ETSA Utilities, now known as SA Power Networks.
On 31 October 2000, ElectraNet began trading as a private company, operating South Australia’s high voltage electricity transmission network.
When Grant Mattiske joined ElectraNet as the new Asset Access Administrator, one of his first projects was auditing ElectraNet’s master key system used to secure access to substations and other key facilities. Grant’s risk management audit identified several issues for swift resolution including the system’s expired patent.
There were also over two hundred keys that had been reported lost or stolen. However with the detailed audit it was identified that there were over three-hundred keys that were not recorded. This was quantified by comparing the total number of keys supplied by the contracted locksmith to ElectraNet’s internal records.
In many cases, lost keys are due to misplacement by current staff or change in contractors and don’t usually pose an intentional threat to assets and services. However, this huge discrepancy of over three-hundred keys was seen as a real security risk to ElectraNet and SA power network.
"Working with a new technology and understanding the nuances of a new system was a small hurdle
to overcome. However the EKA CyberLock project team smoothed out the entire process and the trial
went exceptionally well”
A new traditional master key system would be expensive in the instance of new keys would inevitably be lost, and the same issues would emerge all over again. Grant was researching for alternative security solutions to mitigate this risk, when a chance encounter with a friend from a different company occurred. This friend had an ‘unusual’ looking key on their key ring. This key was no doubt a CyberKey. The search was over and a trial of EKA CyberLock begun soon after.
With selected people involved, the trial began on ElectraNet radio communication sites. ElectraNet started with thirty CyberKeys, twenty padlocks, and several door locks at five sites. The trial lasted for three months and showed significant benefits from traditional master key systems,
especially with audit trails and frequently updated access permissions of CyberKeys.
Post-trial, EKA CyberLock proposed smart battery operated CyberKeys,with LAN authorisers as the communication devices, allowing frequent updates of permissions to the CyberKeys, and several hundred electronic lock cylinders that were fitted across padlocks, doors, and gates. If a key is lost, Grant now simply deactivates its access on the CyberAudit management software. He can also set record and report instructions if it’s used on any lock throughout ElectraNet. Furthermore, he uses a timeout policy. If a key doesn’t have its privileges reauthorised within the defined period, it no longer functions. For ElectraNet, it’s an effective security solution.
ElectraNet rolled out EKA CyberLock in over one-hundred (100+) substations and communications sites. Grant says that “ElectraNet now has over one-thousand and five-hundred (1,500) CyberKeys for approximately one-thousand and two-hundred (1,200) electronic lock cylinders on gates, doors and padlocks. EKA CyberLock secures ElectraNet’s network which extends all across South Australia – from Mt Gambier and the Victorian border, to Leigh Creek and Roxby downs and West to Wudinna.
“In most instances, all that was needed during the changeover to EKA CyberLock was the replacement of the lock cylinder, making the roll-out faster and particularly cost-effective. Even in the extreme heat of the desert, malfunctions are rare with correct device management”, adds Grant.
Grant, now the Senior Asset Security and Interface Engineer, “We have gone from a traditional master key system that has failed our security requirements and implemented EKA CyberLock. This has ensured our physical assets in Adelaide CBD or even on the edge of the Sturt Stony Desert are completely auditable, with user profiles loaded on the smart CyberKey ensuring our contractors and staff have timed access to the locks we give them. What’s more, the electronic lock cylinders don’t have a battery in them, so we never have to be concerned about changing low batteries across all of South Australia.”
More recently, ElectraNet have acquired five of the award winning Validikey 20-key vault to add to its security arsenal. The Validikey 20-key vault have been successfully used by staff for the past several months. Two of these vaults have been installed in SA Power Networks buildings where Electranet shares fifty substations. ElectraNet being the site manager, are required to give access to SA Power Networks employees and contractors. By converting more of these employees and contractors from infrequent access from dedicated CyberKeys, ElectraNet now utilises mission keys which are short term use of onsite CyberKeys within the 20 key vault. Grant concludes, “Previously, a CyberKey used to sit in a desk drawer for months before it was needed to be used which meant batteries could be flat and latest lock lists and permissions were not loaded – all of which prevented people from accessing a site. With the mission keys removed from the 20-key vaults, 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.” ElectraNet have also installed another 20-key vault in the premises of one of their major contractors.
ElectraNet have also deployed a Flex System across two sites utilising weatherised vaults and keypads to provide access for other industry partners who only require access at a site. The benefit of the Flex System is that ElectraNet can issue one CyberKey within the weatherised vault, instead of eighty keys which are only used approximately once per year. ElectraNet plan to roll out additional Flex Systems over the coming months.
Furthermore, ElectraNet are currently trialling Bluetooth2 CyberKey with the CyberAudit Link smartphone application for practically real time audit trail and access control anywhere across South Australia.
Installer: Salisbury Locksmiths