Cybersecurity for Electricity Utilities: Where to Begin?
Whitepaper for Electrical Engineers
Digitisation trends of infrastructure networks may provide benefits for maintenance and operations, but they also introduce risk for opportunists and sophisticated cyber criminals to attack power systems.
Traditionally, responsibility for communications security was allocated to SCADA engineers. However, as electrical protection devices have become connected Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs), protection and control engineers have been required to learn new skills. The integrity of settings files, firmware and their control software becomes a key consideration.
In the past, power systems protection and control technology was secured by physical means. Traditional SCADA control telecommunications infrastructure was isolated from the general public, and security scrutiny remained entirely on preventing internal threats.
Today, new control and automation equipment is leveraging our global learnings of the internet, transitioning to using the Internet Protocol (IP) stack as the primary means of communications. There are many advantages in doing this, provided that vendors adopt the same IT network management standards that are currently used in securing traditional business computing assets, but this also increases the attack surface and exposes assets previously inaccessible by external threats.
“IEEE1686 and IEC62351 have been developed to provide security standards for both equipment manufacturers and our electricity utility customers,” says NOJA Power Group Managing Director Neil O'Sullivan.
“We are focused on providing compliant security solutions in our current and next generation products.”
As equipment vendors such as NOJA Power implement cybersecurity systems in these connected protection devices, a working understanding of electrical system cybersecurity becomes an important skill for the electrical engineer.
In this whitepaper we provide an overview of cybersecurity standards applicable to electrical engineering contexts, including IEEE and IEC standards viewpoints.
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