New Technology That Can Block Cyberattacks From Impacting the Nation’s Electric Power Grid

Visgence Inc, based in Idaho National Laboratory and New Mexico. Researchers have developed and demonstrated technologies that can prevent cyberattacks from affecting the country’s power grid.

During a recent live demo at the INL’s Critical Infrastructure Test Range Complex, a restricted cyber communications device (C3D) was tested against a series of remote access attempts demonstrating a cyber attack. The device warned the operator of abnormal commands and automatically blocked them to prevent attacks on and damage to critical power grid components.

“Protecting our critical infrastructure from foreign enemies is an important element of the department’s national security system,” said Patricia Hoffman, deputy assistant secretary of the US Department of Energy. “These achievements expand our efforts to strengthen our electrical systems against threats while reducing vulnerabilities. Modernize the grid hardware using the capabilities of the Idaho National Laboratory and other national laboratories. Accelerates the transformation and protects us from cyber attacks. “

Master State Estimator

INL researchers are installed in a substation as part of a protection relay-approved communication project, a master state estimator that evaluates cyber and physical information separately and reports the real-time status of the state of the power grid (image above). ) Also developed and tested. ..Credits: Chris Morgan, Idaho National Laboratory

C3D devices use advanced communication functions to autonomously check and filter commands sent to protection relay devices. Relays are the heart of the country’s power grid and are designed to quickly instruct circuit breakers to shut down the flow of electricity when a fault is detected. For example, relays can prevent expensive equipment from being damaged if a power line fails due to a severe storm.

Cyber communication device limitation

A restricted cyber communication device that was connected to a protection relay prior to the demonstration. Credits: Chris Morgan, Idaho National Laboratory

However, relays are traditionally not designed to block the speed and camouflage of cyber attacks. Cyber attacks can send wild commands to grid devices in milliseconds. To prevent this type of attack, intelligent and automated filtering techniques are required.

“As cyberattacks on the country’s critical infrastructure become more sophisticated, we need devices that provide the last line of defense against threats,” said Jake Gentle, INL program manager. “C3D devices are located deep in the utility grid and monitor and block cyberattacks before they affect relay operation.”

To test the effectiveness of the technology, the researchers worked with industry experts for almost a year, including a long-term partner of the international engineering and environmental consultancy PowerEngineers. The INL and the Ministry of Energy have also set up an industry advisory board made up of electricity grid and cybersecurity experts from the federal government, the private sector and academia as a whole.

After a thorough assessment of industry needs and an analysis of the latest cyber threat configurations, researchers designed electronic devices that could be routed to protective relay communication networks. He then built a 36-foot mobile station and connected it to INL’s full grid test stand to create a large grid environment.

Master State Estimator Research Team

Several members of the research team responsible for designing and testing the Master State Estimator device stand next to the invention.Credits: Chris Morgan, Idaho National Laboratory

While the entire system was online, the researchers sent sudden power surge commands to substation relays to monitor the effects from nearby command centers. Immediately, the C3D device blocked the command, preventing the attack from damaging the larger grille.

Device development was funded by the DOE’s Power Department as part of the Protection Relay Allowed Communications project. Software packages associated with this technology will be tested further over the next several months before they can be licensed to the private sector.

Demonstration of restricted cyber communication devices

A project demonstration site for restricted cyber communication devices. Credits: Chris Morgan, Idaho National Laboratory

INL is the National Laboratory of the US Department of Energy (DOE) serving in each of the DOE’s strategic target areas of energy, national security, science, and the environment. The INL is a national center for nuclear research and development. The day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of the Battelle Energy Alliance.

New technology that can prevent cyberattacks from affecting the nation’s electricity grids Source link New technology that can prevent cyberattacks from affecting the nation’s electricity grids