National Grid unit seeks partner for on-demand cyberattack response ahead of nationalisation

Electricity System Operator unit – which is due to return to public ownership within the next year – is looking to appoint a specialist supplier to ensure it has sufficient security safeguards

Ahead of a pending process of renationalisation, the National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO) unit is seeking to appoint a supplier that can provide the organisation with on-demand support in responding to cyberattacks.

NGESO, which manages the supply of electricity around the grid, is due to be separated from the wider National Grid corporate structure and returned into public ownership around the middle of next year. According to a newly published commercial notice, the soon-to-be nationalised unit “has a regulatory commitment to move all IT systems and shared services away from National Grid Plc”.

This includes the services provided by a central cyber response and digital forensics team that currently provides support to all entities that form the National Grid group of companies.

The soon-to-be-nationalised unit is seeking to identify a supplier to take over the provision of these services.

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“NGESO is looking to select a partner to enable the successful separation of the cybersecurity incident response and digital forensics services of the NGESO away from National Grid Plc at pace, by providing services as follows: planning for incident response; help identifying the effectiveness of the service and the plugging in of missing factors; on-demand response support in the event of a cyber incident… [and] on-demand digital forensics services.”

All services should be provided on the basis of “24/7 service availability” and the intention is that the chosen provider will “be onboarded and services operational by January 2024”.

Suppliers will need to adhere to the terms set out in “transitional service agreements” that will apply to NGESO for a period of two years after the separation is rubber-stamped.

The unit has yet to launch a formal procurement process but has published a request for information. Prospective suppliers are invited to respond to the questions set out in the RFI, covering details of their organisation, services, and pricing.

Firms wishing to do so are asked to confirm their interest by the end of business hours on Friday, before completing the questionnaire by the end of the month.

The RFI notice added: “The future supplier’s services should provide tools and capabilities that exceed the incumbent’s, complementing the platforms noted, technology, people, and processes.”

Once NGESO has returned to public ownership, it will be known as the Future System Operator and, in addition to its current duties, will assume responsibility for national monitoring planning with a “whole energy system view”, and overseeing “emergency preparedness… [and] energy resilience”.

Sam Trendall

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