Some good news about smart grid security (straight from Idaho)


By: SGN Staff

Quick Take: Seems like every month we are buffeted by another smart grid security challenge. In August, for instance, we sent around a smart security alert that it is the embedded devices that are most vulnerable. Today, however, brings a ray of hope from Idaho National Laboratory, which has just demonstrated a new suite of tools for situational awareness of SCADA and other control networks. - By Jesse Berst


A new suite of  cyber security tools recently demonstrated by DOE's Idaho National Laboratory includes a tool, the Sophia situational awareness software, designed to help utilities protect their network and control systems from attack.


"We're trying to help people better understand their computer networks so they can better protect them," said Robert Erbes, the INL cyber security researcher who led the demonstration for energy industry stakeholders and DOE officials last week.


What Sophia can do is passively watch network communications and give both real-time and historical records of those communications. And it can be configured to automatically flag any unusual activity or new types of conversations that may indicate a security issue. Sophia can provide all of the information it receives for operators to evaluate, as can the other tools included in the demonstration.


Sophia was initially used and evaluated by a small group of utilities and vendors that sell utility control systems and won good reviews, and a second testing stage involved many more companies. INL is in the process of evaluating deployment, and expects Sophia to be the first of the tools in the software suite to be made available to industry.


Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.

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