Sunday, September 24, 2023

Are IEC 61850 based Systems Cyber-Secure?

Often you hear arguments that IEC 61850 based systems are not cyber-secure ... is that true?

The truth is: The standards series IEC 61850 refers to the standard series IEC 62351. Example:

Power Systems Management and Associated Information Exchange – Communication network and system security – Part 4: Profiles including MMS and derivatives

IEC 61850-8-1 (Mapping to MMS) requires to use TLS ... as defined in IEC 62351-6 !!

Click HERE to access the preview of IEC 61850-8-1 (referring to IEC 62351) and HERE for the preview of IEC 62351-6.

Another issue to protect your IEC 61850 based system is to monitor the traffic and compare it with the configured communication relations and contents:

Click HERE to watch a brief video from Omicron that shows some means to support cyber-security in IEC 61850 based systems. 

There is a lot of activities going on to increase the cyber-security in automation systems.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

New Book on IEC 61850

Please note that there is a quite new book (400+ pages) about IEC 61850 for electric power systems:

IEC 61850 Principles and Applications to Electric Power Systems

Editors: Peter Bishop, Nirmal-Kumar C. Nair

Click HERE for details.
The basic approach of the IEC 61850 standard series is to some degree independent of electric power systems and applicable in most automation domains.
Example: Monitoring of a process measurement
The following sketch shows an excerpt of a series of presentations I conducted recently.
A instantaneous measurement (in IEC 61850 xxxx.instMag) can be read at any time by some computer (on the left). The value could come with a quality information saying: Value is ok; and a timestamp.
Instead of polling the value, you may want to receive the value every 10 seconds automatically without polling. Next you may want to receive the value when it changes by +/- 10 % compared to the last reported value. Or you may want to receive a report in case the quality of the value changes from good to bad ... and so on.
IEC 61850 information exchange services for monitoring process values offer many additional possibilities to receive spontaneously sent information. The information to be sent can represent measurements you find in building automation, heating systems, diesel generators, pressure systems, car manufactoriing, ...
Click HERE for papers co-written by Nirmal-Kumar C. Nair (co-author of the new book) and myself (Karlheinz Schwarz). You will be surprised what we published more than 10 years ago! (some papers may not easily be accessible! ... sorry for that).
Stay tuned to the blog to see more on this in the future. 

Friday, September 15, 2023

IEC 61850: Communication Interfaces for Mobile Battery Energy Storage Applications

A. Bonetti ... NO, NOT Andrea Bonetti, but his son Alessandro wrote a very remarkable Master Thesis at KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) (Stockholm, Sweden):

Communication Interfaces for Mobile Battery Energy Storage Applications

Alessandro, Congratulation! Excellent!

You wrote: "Then, I give my sincere appreciation to Karlheinz Schwarz for answering my questions regarding modeling, and maintaining an open blog with comments and thoughts regarding power system automation."

You are welcome!

Excerpt from the Abstract:

"This thesis project, carried out at Northvolt Systems, aims to analyze the existing and readily used communication interfaces for a specific set of mobileBESS applications. The analysis is performed by a literature review of typical mobile BESS applications with the identified corresponding communication interfaces. Among the identified interfaces is the IEC 61850 standard, which shows suitability in smart grid applications, enabling interoperability,vendor-independence, and standardization. To provide a real-life analysis of the IEC 61850 benefits and applicability to mobile BESS, an integration of the standard to a Northvolt mobile BESS was performed."

Click HERE to access the abstract and the download link.

Click HERE to watch a nice video from Andrea Bonetti about IEC 61850 for power systems.

Andrea, You could be proud of your son Alessandro!

Saturday, August 12, 2023

IEC CDV files available for Public Commenting - circulation date 2023-08-11

 Dear Friends of IEC standards, I just remember you that IEC lets you comment on published CDVs (Committe Draft for Vote) ... 

Click HERE for general rules, :

IEC Public Commenting

Help shape international standards if you have the requisite technical expertise. Public commenting on draft IEC Standards is open for a two month period

Currently the following IEC 61850 document is open for comments ... you have to login with your IEC account or register for an account:


IEC 61850-6/AMD2 ED2: Amendment 2 -
Communication networks and systems for power utility automation -
Part 6: Configuration description language for communication in electrical substations related to IEDs 


Please take your time to review the document ... You may agree with me that part 6 (SCL) is a crucial part of the series IEC 61850!

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Updated my LinkedIn Profile

 Please note that I have updated my LinkedIn profile today:

Klick HERE to access my LinkedIn profile.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

IEC 61850 Online-Seminar im Frühjahr 2023

Die FGH Akademie (Mannheim) bietet ein Online-Seminar "Basics IEC 61850" bestehend aus neun (9) Blöcken je 2,5 Stunden an.

Datum: 06. - 31.03.2023

Hier klicken, um zu weiteren Informationen zu gelangen.

Falls Sie Interesse an einem In-House-Seminar zu IEC 61850 haben, können Sie mich gerne ansprechen - mein umfangreicher Erfahrungsschatz (den ich von 1982 bis heute aufgebaut habe) steht Ihnen zur Verfügung!

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Education Regarding IEC 61850 in 2023

Dear All,

Andrea Bonetti (now with Megger) and I have conducted many training sessions all over ... we are both convinced that after three years of Corona pandemic there are many people that are waiting for comprehensive training on IEC 61850 and related standards.

Click HERE for some LinkedIn discussion on the need for training ...

Click HERE for another LinkedIn discussion ...

You can see Karlheinz Schwarz in action during a seminar for the project "Future Intelligent Transmission Network Substation (FITNESS)" in Scotland:

Click HERE for the report ... you will see me presenting on the left side in the photo on page 15.

UPDATE On My Personal Situation After My Wife Passed Away On October 25, 2022

Dear All,

You may remember my post dated October 24, 2021:

One year and one day later:

My wife Ingeruth passed away on October 25, 2022 after a long lasting and serious illness at the age of 69. Ingeruth suffered ALS which was diagnosed in January 2017. One of our daughters and I nursed her 24/7 since then. She needed air ventilation all day and night … and electric power 24/7 …

I really miss my wife ... 
I have been contacted by several people that asked me, if I would be available for some consultancy work or training ... and even travel again. During the last years I have done training and consultancy work by phone and online ... YES, I am available ...
I also hope to spent some time to post useful information on this blog.
Note that I am planning to attend the DistribuTech 2023 in San Diego (Febr 7-9).
Ingeruth and I planned to travel to San Diego in January 2017, six years ago. But the doctors told us on January 6, 2017 the diagnosis ALS … we cancelled the trip immediately. So, I am now catching up (alone) on what we missed to do together … 
Please contact me in case you have a question ...

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

ISA99 - New Working Group "Electric Energy OT Security Profile"

"The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), global equipment suppliers, and other stakeholders announced the establishment of the Electric Energy OT Security Profile working group hosted by the International Society of Automation ISA99 standards committee.

The Electric Energy OT Security Profile will be a cybersecurity work product utilizing the ISA/IEC 62443 series of standards. The final product will be a formal ISA/IEC 62443 application guide, recognized globally as the consensus work product for securing various control systems used in electric energy generation, transmission, and distribution operations.


The ISA Electric Energy OT Security Profile working group is seeking participation from industry groups, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE), and other industry stakeholders to ensure consideration of and alignment with other cybersecurity work product development efforts. ... "

Click HERE for the press release.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Netze BW Erprobt FNN-Steuerboxen mit IEC 61850

In mehreren Pilotprojekten erprobt die Netze BW den Einsatz der FNN-Steuerboxen. Die Steuerboxen kommunizieren mit dem Steuerbox Administrator-System mittels IEC 61850. 

"„Die Erkenntnisse aus den Prüfungen im Karlsruher Labor und aus der gemeinsamen Arbeit fließen laufend in den Fortgang der Standardisierung zurück und dienen beispielsweise dazu, die Spezifikation zu präzisieren“, erklärt Jana Brandt, die in diesem Bereich zuständige Projektleiterin ist. ... Die Projektleiterin ist überzeugt: „Für den Bereich Technik & Innovation der Netze BW erweitern sich durch die Erkenntnisse die Optionen für die Netzintegration der E-Mobilität.“ ... Jana Brandt: „Zusammengefasst geht es um einen Beitrag zu Stabilität und Sicherheit im Verteilnetz, die Vermeidung von Kosten für den Netzausbau und somit letztlich zum Gelingen der Energiewende.“"

Klick HIER, um zum Beitrag zu gelangen.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

How To Bring Plant Engineers To The Table When Cyber Issues Are Discussed?

In my career as electrical and IT engineer I have experienced that engineers are quite often not invited to discuss the measures and plans for critical infrastructure protection with IT personnel.

It is completely different compared to the world of electric power system protection - I mean the applications of protection relays. Protection engineers are (in my understanding) the most crucial engineers. They are very important for the reliable delivery of electric power. Protection engineers are likely to attend any meeting when it comes to the reliability of the power flows. Protection engineers know what to do ... software people may help to implement the "what" and the IT personnel may help to solve the communication issues ... but the crucial parts are dominated by protection engineers!

Mr. Vytautas Butrimas, a globally well known engineer involved in cyber security of control systems has briefly discussed the "Berlin wall" between IT personnel and plant engineers.  

Click HERE for the four page paper written by Mr. Butrimas.

Either of the groups involved believes that his or her group is the center of universe. There is little communication between the IT personnel and the engineers. 

There are so many semipermeable walls between, e.g., politicians, company lawyers, economists, IT experts, and plant engineers. There is usually no way that experts from any layer are allowed to talk to the experts from the other layers. In the end: Each layer feels independent of the other layers ... which leads to what we see these days ... and may be even more in the future. Have you heard of a discussion between a power protection engineer and a lawyer or even a medical doctor?

It would help medical doctors to understand the basics of electric power system reliability ... and so on. Because medical doctors (and all other people of a society) depend 100% on available power.

So in the end: (Electrical) Engineers should be honored by the society ... the problem may be that the engineers are not wearing white coats but wear safety boots, safety helmets, goggles,  protective gloves, ... a single doctor may harm a few people ... a protection engineer may harm millions of people during a blackout caused by a misconfiguration of protection equipment.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

How Does Time Impact Our Life?

 I remember well the discussion on understanding and using UTC Time in IEC 61850 ... a very time consuming discussion. There are still discussions going on ... should UTC be replaced by something else?

Whatever format and scale you are using or inventing ... you will see problems over a longer period of use.

These days we see even cars may have crucial issues with processing of time:

Honda, Acura cars hit by Y2K22 bug that rolls back clocks to 2002:

The report starts with: "Honda and Acura cars have been hit with a Year 2022 bug, aka Y2K22, that resets the navigation system's clock to January 1st, 2002, with no way to change it."

True? Yes, it seems to be true.

A well known issue is related to the year 2038: Year 2038 problem

Many other time formatting and storage bugs!! 

Use the time you have in 2022 to spent more of it for or with your family, friends, ... stay safe in 2022!

Happy new year! 

Lesson learned: Don't expect that more automation, more programs, more smart phones, ... give you any additional time in your life! I guess they will consume a lot of your free time to find and fix bugs of many kinds ... 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Just published: IEC 61850-7-420 Basic Communication Structure – Distributed Energy Resources And Distribution Automation Logical Lodes

IEC TC 57 just published one of the most crucial parts of the standard series IEC 61850:

This second edition of the 548 pages long bilingual standard (EN/FR) has been developed over a period of - I guess more than 10 years - taking into account the experience with IEC 61850 in general and with distributed power systems.

Now it is time to implement and use the standard in conjunction with the other core parts like IEC 61850-6, 7-1, -7-2, -7-3, and 7-4.

Click HERE for details on IEC 61850-7-420.

Click HERE for the preview.

Please note that the syntax of the object models is available for free download:

Click HERE for the download of the light name space document [zip, 30 KB] 

Excerpt of the light name space:

Sample code for Battery Monitoring LN with Cell Voltage Lo Alarm and Hi Alarm:

Note that the description (Semantic) is only available in the Full name space document that comes with the standard when you buy the standard.

It is recommended to purchase the standard in case you want to study the full content and to figure out the benefit ...!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Four Additional Light Namespace Documents For IEC 61850 Series Are Available For Free Access

 Please note that the following four namespace documents have been published the other day:

Click HERE to access these four and the other 22 name space documents.

  1. IEC 61850-90-9: Object models for electrical energy storage
  2. IEC 61850-90-4: Network engineering guidelines for substations
  3. IEC 61850-90-11: Methodologies for modelling of logics for IEC 61850 based applications
  4. IEC 61850-7-420: Communications systems for distributed energy resources (DER) - Logical nodes


Monday, November 8, 2021

Critical Infrastructure Ransomware Dataset V 11.6 Available For Download

 Aunshul Rege announced the latest Critical Infrastructure Ransomware Dataset (Friday Nov 05, 2021):

"Dear all,

I hope everyone is doing well.

My team and I have updated our dataset of critical infrastructures ransomware incidents (CIRW) that have been publicly disclosed in the media or security reports. CIRW dataset version 11.6 now has 1066 incidents, which are assembled from publicly disclosed incidents between November 2013 and October end 2021. 

Also, community members can now submit a CIRW that you would like to see included into this dataset!

To download the dataset or submit a CIRW incident, please visit Please ensure that you enter your email address correctly, and note that we do not reply to personal email addresses (protonmail, gmail, etc.). And please give us a few days to respond to your request."

The Report "IT-Security-Situation-in-Germany-2020" describes three German ransomware cases:
  1. Ransomware Attack on the Council Offices of a Mid-sized German City
  2. Ransomware in Hospitals
  3. Ransomware Attack on a University
Click HERE to access the Report [PDF, 1.72 MB] ... worth to read.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Siemens SIPROTEC 5 Relays With Various CPU Variants Have Security Issues

Please note the following information made public by US-Cert_CISA ... in case you use SIPROTEC 5 Relays:


CVSS v3 9.8

ATTENTION: Exploitable remotely/low attack complexity

Vendor: Siemens

Equipment: SIPROTEC 5 relays

Vulnerabilities: Classic Buffer Overflow

Successful exploitation of these vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to cause a denial-of-service condition or trigger a remote code execution.

Click HERE for the complete just updated report.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Power Outage In Frankfurt Area (Germany) - And People That Need A Breathing Ventilator

I just read that in the western part of the city Frankfurt (Main, Germany) the electric power was down for more than 10,000 customers. A current transformer (CT, for measuring the current) blow up ... and produced a lot of smoke. The power went off from 17:15 on Tuesday 2021-10-26. The restoration took some eight hours!

The Hessenschau (de) reported that nine (9!) people that depend on breathing ventilators had been hospitalized. This critical situation tells us, that the ventilators did likely not have battery backup power - either in the devices or external. The devices we use for my wife have both two internal batteries which give (rated!) power for 16 hours for each device.

This brings two questions up in my mind:

  1. Why is it not required by law that all breathing ventilators have battery power for at least 24 hours?
  2. Why don't we have to have external batteries and inverters that would give power for several days?

Instead of bringing patients with the ambulances to the hospital, it would be much easier (faster and cheaper) to bring an emergency power supply package (batterie plus inverter) to the patients! Or?

There seems to be a wide area of improving the quality of life.

By the way, why did the CT (current transformer) crash? Was it too old or not ... or? I hope that my friend Andrea Bonetti (one of the most experienced protection engineers on this planet) will comment on the importance of CTs!

Any comment?

Add on (2021-10-30): 

First: The utility has told that more than 100 workers are involved in fixing the problem ... the current fix is provisionary only! 100+ workers means: It must be a big problem that needs so many people to fix. 

Second: It was reported that in an elderly care home the nurses had to use their mobile phone's flash light to look for the elderly people ... no emergency light! Hmm ... strange. A few 12V batteries and some 12V LEDs would have done a good job! Cheap and useful ... lifesaving! ... if somebody would care for their maintenance. The management has obviously decided to purchase a hand lamp per floor ... 👍 something is better than nothing. Note: A battery leak (AA or AAA batteries) may damage a flash light that is not used often ... or only in case of emergency. Non leaking batteries are available: Lithium Batteries are the right choice for emergency devices. I have replaced the typical AA and AAA batteries with Lithium batteries for all flashlights and outdoor devices like thermometer ... they withstand cold weather and do not leak ... life time likely 10+ years ...

Click HERE for the extended Hessenschau (de) report.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Want To Know What The IEC 61850 Tissue Process Is All About?

Please click HERE to find a good description of the IEC 61850 Tissue process as defined by IEC TC 57 - written by Christoph Brunner.

The tissue database was designed by my son Michael Schwarz and myself in 2004. At that time we exchanged tissues, questions, discussions, results ... by email ... and somebody took note of the discussion and wrote something into the tissues word document ... huch ... which was the latest version ...? Quite confusing.

NettedAutomation wanted to offer a free of charge service to the community that allows everybody to post any new tissue on a single entry point ... and to get a single, always up-to-date list ... Since then we have improved the tissue database according to the experience made by the global community.

Nowadays the tissue database is an integral part of the IEC 61850 and related standard series like IEC 61400-25 ... all new editions of any part of these series has a list of tissues taken into account in the new edition, e.g., in the name space document of part 7-4:

IEC 61850-7-2 2007A3 NSD light code component, see the IEC 61850-7-2:2010 for full legal notices:

Click HERE to download that name space document. That document lists the tissues taken into account since version 2007/A:

Click HERE for tissue 1652.
So, the tissue process is a core service offered by IEC to the global community! In case you have a comment on the tissue database, let me know.
In case you would be interested in such a tissue database for your standards or other projects, let me know please ... we could provide you an offer.

Note that there are 22 name space documents available for free download.☝

Click HERE to access the name space documents.