Cybersecurity

NIST looking for partners to secure energy IoT

smart grid rolling out (DarwelShots/Shutterstock.com) 

The National Institute for Standards and Technology is looking to enter into cooperative research agreements for products and technical expertise that can secure energy-related internet-of-things devices.

In a posting scheduled to be published Oct. 8 in the Federal Register, NIST is asking all interested organizations to submit letters of interest to enter a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the agency to "provide an architecture that can be referenced and develop guidance for securing [industrial IoT devices] in commercial and/or utility-scale distributed energy resource environments."

The initiative marks the first foray into the energy sector for the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, a clearinghouse for public and private sector cyber expertise established in 2012.

"The expected outcome of the demonstration is to improve the security of [industrial IoT] across an entire energy sector enterprise," the notice states. "Participating organizations will gain from the knowledge that their products are interoperable with other participants' offerings."

Organizations will participate in a use case that tests new methods for securing connected devices in the U.S. energy industrial sector, from sensors attached to machinery and vehicles to insecure devices that help transmit data from distribution control systems.

Securing these information exchanges from solar panels, wind turbines and other energy-sector machinery is the primary focus on the project. NIST is seeking to gain a better understanding of the cybersecurity risks and considerations these exchanges introduce to the electric grid, find better ways to detect and mitigate malware infections, identity methods for improving the integrity of command and operational data and create new analytics to help owners and operators do their jobs more safely.

The agency wants example solutions that use only "existing, commercially available and/or open-source cybersecurity products," according to the notice. Desired capabilities include access control techniques, technologies that can protect data at rest or in transit and detect data integrity violations, machine-learning powered analytics and behavioral monitoring, data visualization, distributed audit trails, network monitoring and federated authentication techniques.

About the Author

Derek B. Johnson is a former senior staff writer at FCW.

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