The Coldwater city council questioned the cyber security of the city’s network system when the Russia-Ukraine war began. Staff assured council members that the city and Coldwater Board of Public Utilities are doing their job.
Now the city will upgrade its systems following the consultant’s recommendation. Councilor Jam Knaack questioned only one proposal for implementation from the consultant.
Pat Pool, Information Technology Director, said the city has upgraded its internal IT system gradually over the past 20 years. “Initially we wanted to be easier to use.”
Last year the department hired American Municipal Power to complete a network redesign to better secure its networks.
With over 130 municipal power members, AMP has a wealth of experience and maturity in protecting municipal control systems and their equipment.
Pool reported, “The network improvements will create a new foundation upon which to create more effective security enhancements for the ever-increasing and complex threat landscape of the future.”
AMP will install the new system, which runs the city’s internal computer system and its control system for electricity and other utility services, for $50,875.
Pool said he would get another bid from Aspen Wireless, which maintains the network but declined to disclose work with other outside vendors.
Mayor Tom Kramer pointed out that Coldwater is a member of AMP. “We’re part of the family.”
The upgrade includes three major components, new network switches, next-generation firewalls, and services to implement higher security.
Low bidder Aspen Wireless will provide the switches for $81,600 with a 90-day expected delivery. The bid was $43,000 less than the next bid.
Aspen was the high bidder at $3,200 for the firewalls at $98,640.
Aspen is also the company that designed and built the city’s fiber-to-premises internet system. Because of that, Pool recommends, “Our current contract with Aspen Wireless includes network support that will cover the day-to-day technical support of this equipment.”
Pool recommended that the city purchase 18 Ruckus switches and 8 Fortinet firewalls from Aspen Wireless for $180,240.
On top of the new equipment is the reprogramming of AMP to address security concerns.
Pool said the networks were “originally built with little security in mind. With the ever-evolving and sophisticated nature of bad actors, we believe it is wise to re-evaluate those network foundation and evaluate the costs and benefits of redesigning these networks. for the threat landscape of the future.”
The work will improve the city’s system to deal with the current level of threat. However, it is necessary to continue to evaluate threats and operate to prevent damage to the system.
Utilities across the country fear that network intrusions could disrupt the power grid and local power systems. Governments and businesses are facing ransomware attacks from abroad. It controls internal computer systems until payments are made.
The cost of the upgrades will be shared between the general government and CBPU. The enhancements are part of the new 2022-23 budget.
The poll is hopeful about the hardware, “it should set us up for the next 20 years.”