University of São Paulo: Essential sectors for society require strategic planning to avoid unforeseen events

THECritical infrastructure occurs in sectors essential to society and the economy — energy, water supply, telecommunications and transport. In this sense, security in these sectors is essential to prevent problems from occurring.

Professor Eduardo Asada, from the School of Engineering of São Carlos at USP, explains that, if there is no correct planning for these areas and some unforeseen event occurs, “there can be a situation where the damage is very great”, of economic and social levels, as in the case of Amapá, in 2020 .

The energy sector

The structure of the energy sector represents a highly interconnected industry in a very complex system, with the generation, transmission and distribution of electric energy operating together. “This area is critical, because we cannot run out of energy today, but in each of these systems we have a criticality”, says Asada.

For this sector to always function, the professor points out that a coordinated action for the production of electric energy needs to be carried out. “If we have failures, for example, in some generator, others will have to compensate for that failure, and this also affects the transmission part. How am I going to transport what was compensated for a generator failure by other ways? So I have to think about that part of the transmission as well, finally reaching the end consumer.”

Despite adding the critical factor to the complex, Asada points out that the electricity sector is quite safe, not least because such an essential service must always be working. And, with technological advances and implementation in automation, there is an improvement in technology, whether in control or monitoring.

Cybersecurity in the energy sector

5G , which will be deployed in Brazil in July 2022, will be able to further optimize automation. But the professor warns to be careful with the networks that manage this entire sector. Cyber ​​attacks can occur, at the same time they can be mistaken for failures in the industry. “If I have everything connected to networks and there is a traffic of information there, you cannot leave access for strangers to enter and disturb the operation. So this is a pretty big concern,” he says.

Therefore, if, on the one hand, facilities are created, on the other, precautions must be taken. “Someone, for example, who is very knowledgeable in the area, knows the loopholes and can exploit them and harm not just one person. In these critical infrastructures, it ends up reaching a huge population”, explains Asada.

With automation and advancement in technology, there must also be advancement in monitoring and the rules need to be clear. The exterior is moving towards the “flexibilization of different electrical energy points. So, different participants can, for example, trade electricity. And Brazil is moving towards making this more flexible, too, for consumers who put solar panels at home. This is a natural tendency”, ponders the professor.

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