Security first; not in smart grid

Development and deployment of smart-grid technology such as intelligent electric meters has outpaced security, setting up a “delicate dance with risk,” said the head of the industry advisory group EnergySec.

04/30/2012


“We’re not going to stop the roll-out of the technology, so what do we do when things go wrong?” said EnergySec Chief Executive Patrick Miller. “We’ve got to try to find ways to implement new options in measurement and repair,” that will allow rapid response to failures and breaches.

Miller said installation of equipment already is under way and slowing down to wait for security to catch up is not an option.

“The hackers will outpace that technology,” he said. But risk must undergo intelligent management. “Hope is not a strategy. You should go into this knowing the risks,” and with plans to mitigate and respond to it.

Miller made his comments in the wake of a survey of energy industry security professionals in which large majorities of respondents said that security controls and standards are not keeping pace with the rollout of new equipment.

The Energy Sector Security Consortium (EnergySec) is a non-profit forum for the exchange of security information among asset owners, industry partners and the U.S. government.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been charged in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 with identifying and developing the technical standards needed to ensure utilities, manufacturers, equipment testers and regulators will be working on the same page.

The agency recently released an updated version of its Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability that identifies technical standards for interoperability, and also is identifying security standards for the industry.

But standards development is a slow process, and 75 percent of the 104 respondents in the survey, done in partnership with the security company nCircle, said no one has adequately addressed security in smart-grid deployment. Seventy-two percent said development of security standards are not keeping pace with deployment and another 61 percent said that security controls on current smart meters are not adequate.

Although a majority of respondents — 53 percent — said there was too much hype on security issues, 70 percent said smart meters and the metering infrastructure, including transport networks, are the most vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Developing standards for the grid took on urgency in 2009 when $4.5 billion became available through the Energy Department in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the development of smart-grid technologies, to modernize existing infrastructure and fund demonstration and deployment programs.

NIST developed a three-phase plan to accelerate the identification of existing standards applicable to the smart grid; establish a Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) of government, standards organizations and industry group for the development of the many additional standards needed; and to create a conformity testing and certification infrastructure.

Miller does not fault NIST’s performance.

“The standards-making process is intentionally slow,” he said. “NIST is probably working as fast as NIST could.” But because new networked equipment already is being installed in the energy infrastructure, “somebody is going to have to swallow the reality that innovation will outpace standardization.”



The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Robotic integration and cloud connections; SCADA and cybersecurity; Motor efficiency standards; Open- and closed-loop control; Augmented reality
Controller programming; Safety networks; Enclosure design; Power quality; Safety integrity levels; Increasing process efficiency
Additive manufacturing benefits; HMI and sensor tips; System integrator advice; Innovations from the industry
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This article collection contains several articles on how automation and controls are helping human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software advance.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me