As smart grid approaches, security concerns follow

The new guidelines for securing an intelligent power distribution network released build on a security framework released in January and are the product of a 450-member public-private working group headed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

A final set of guidelines for a smart-grid security architecture has been released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, outlining how security requirements will be incorporated into the design of the nation’s next-generation power distribution system.

“The United States has embarked on a major transformation of its electric power infrastructure,” the interagency report states. “This vast infrastructure upgrade — extending from homes and businesses to fossil-fuel-powered generating plants and wind farms, affecting nearly everyone and everything in between — is central to national efforts to increase energy efficiency, reliability, and security; to transition to renewable sources of energy; to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and to build a sustainable economy that ensures future prosperity.”

But security challenges will come with the new intelligent infrastructure.

“While integrating information technologies is essential to building the smart grid and realizing its benefits, the same networked technologies add complexity and also introduce new interdependencies and vulnerabilities,” the report states. “Approaches to secure these technologies and to protect privacy must be designed and implemented early in the transition to the smart grid.”


Related stories:

NIST completes first release of Smart Grid framework

DOE, NIST aim to secure smart grid


The three-volume Interagency Report 7628, “Guidelines for Smart Grid Cyber Security,” builds on an architecture for security and interoperability released by NIST in January. The guidelines provide a framework for developing effective cybersecurity strategies to address smart grid-related characteristics, risks and vulnerabilities. The methods and supporting information can be used to assess risk and identify appropriate security requirements.

“This approach recognizes that the electric grid is changing from a relatively closed system to a complex, highly interconnected environment,” the report states. “Each organization’s cybersecurity requirements should evolve as technology advances and as threats to grid security inevitably multiply and diversify.”

The report was prepared by the Cyber Security Working Group of the smart grid's Interoperability Panel, a public-private partnership launched by NIST with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding from the Energy Department. The guidelines are the second major output of NIST-coordinated efforts to identify and develop standards needed to convert the nation's aging electric grid into an advanced, digital infrastructure with two-way capabilities for communicating information, controlling equipment and distributing energy.

The smart-grid program was established in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which mandated that security be built into the system that would use intelligent networking and automation to better control the flow and delivery of electricity to consumers. This would require a two-way flow of electricity and information between the power plant and the end user, and to points in between. Security requirements are being developed using a high-level risk assessment process and are recognized as critical in all of the priority action plans discussed in the “Framework and Roadmap for smart-grid Interoperability Standards, Release 1.0,” (NIST Special Publication 1108) released in January.

“Given the transcending importance of cybersecurity to smart grid performance and reliability, this document ‘drills down’ from the initial release of the NIST Framework and Roadmap, providing the technical background and additional details that can inform organizations in their risk management efforts to securely implement smart grid technologies,” the report says.

Smart-grid security requirements will be developed for specific domains, business and mission functions and interfaces, as well as for the overall grid. But they are being developed at a high level and will not be spelled out for specific systems or components because of the impossible complexity of that job. The security requirements and architecture will address not only deliberate attacks but errors, failures and natural disasters that also could destabilize the grid.

The security architecture being developed will identify interfaces between functional domains of the new grid and categorize them according to the criticality of their data accuracy and availability. The constraints, issues and impacts of breaches at these interfaces will be considered for each category, and security requirements will be developed.

The guidelines identify 137 interfaces — points of data exchange or other types of interactions within or between different smart-grid systems and subsystems. They are assigned to one or more of 22 categories based on shared or similar functional and security characteristics. In all, the report details 189 high-level security requirements applicable either to the entire smart grid or to particular parts of the grid and associated interface categories. 

The new report also includes:

  • A description of the risk-assessment process used to identify the requirements.
  • A discussion of technical cryptographic and key management issues across the scope of smart-grid systems and devices.
  • Initial recommendations for addressing privacy risks and challenges pertaining to personal residences and electric vehicles.
  • An overview of the process that the CSWG developed to assess whether existing or new standards that enable smart-grid interoperability also satisfy the high-level security requirements included in the report.
  • Summaries of research needs.

The work of developing guidelines and standards for smart-grid security will continue as the security architecture continues to evolve. The process ultimately will deliver the hundreds of communication protocols, standard interfaces, and other technical specifications needed to build an advanced, secure electric power grid with two-way communication and control capabilities.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.