Cyber risks are increasingly posing threats to Bangladesh's power generation, transmission and distribution, the sector's top policymakers told a seminar on the sidelines of Digital World yesterday.
State Minister of Power Nasrul Hamid Bipu sought support from young ICT experts to improve service quality and called for bringing innovations and solutions to address challenges which may damage the sector within seconds.
“We are introducing new projects to formulate preventive measures that we have to take to face cyber attacks on power,” he told the seminar on “cyber security: public utilities and cyber security risks” at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.
His office ran a hackathon last year to find ways to save power and bring more efficiency in ICT use, said Bipu. They are planning to organise a programme this year to get new entrepreneurs and innovations, he added.
Jamil Azhar, strategic adviser to Startup Bangladesh, gave a presentation saying power was one of the country's critical infrastructures running amidst serious cyber security threats.
“We cannot ensure cyber security introducing any imported idea. Rather we need our local ideas and solutions,” he said, requesting that the government establish a centre to monitor all critical infrastructures.
The country's installed power generation capacity is currently around 17,000 megawatts (MW) and it is generating over 10,000MW, so there is no scope to continue using traditional systems, said Azhar.
He cited an example of 2013 when hackers were able to take control of Ukraine's power systems for just 30 minutes, damaging three of the most critical service sectors.
Bipu said their target was to generate over 40,000MW of electricity within the next few years, upgrading the country's status from lower to middle income, and achieving it required ensuring cyber security.
Nawshad Islam, managing director of Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited, said they always encouraged new innovations and ICT experts could come up any time to present products on mitigating challenges.
He said they were far behind when it came to digitisation and automation of transmission and distribution systems.
However, Ahmed Kaikaus, secretary to the power division, said the power segment was using both integrated and non-integrated systems.
“Advancement is a must to develop the system and that also created huge challenges,” he said, adding that local youths can step up and bring an end to the need for hiring foreign consultants.