Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sandia and Hayden on Cybersecurity Strategies for Microgrids

First off, thanks to friend and colleague Ernie Hayden for writing a microgrid security post following his mini-immersion in the topic last week.  You can read his write-up HERE.

In particular, want you to see something he linked to: SNL's Microgrid Cybersecurity Reference Architecture.  That's Sandia National Labs, btw, not Saturday Night Live; talented though he is, Jimmy Fallon is not a contributor to this piece.

Note: the microgrid concept described by Sandia is principally for energy security in DOD use cases, for emergency fall-back scenarios. Not necessarily for improving day-to-day operations or achieving efficiencies or cost savings, though you get some of those as part of this.

An excerpt from the Executive Summary makes that concept clear:
The design of a microgrid control system needs to be more robust than that of a traditional industrial control system (ICS) for the following reasons:
  • The microgrid is used in emergency situations and may be critical to continuity of operations of an installation 
  • The microgrid must function during active attack by a capable adversary.
As such, the traditional design and implementation for an ICS may not be sufficient for implementing a robust and secure microgrid.
Of course, there are an increasing number of non-military microgrid use cases and a burgeoning technology and integration market that supports them. But my guess is all those civilian applications should go to school on how Sandia and the DOD are hardening theirs, and select from among those approaches security that's right for their own risk tolerance objectives.

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