Thursday, February 4, 2016

Communication Network Interdependencies in Smart Grids: A comprehensive Study

Communication network interdependencies in smart grids is a crucial issue to be discussed in the context of the European Market.The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) has just published a comprehensive report on the above issue.

The main concerns that were expressed by the 20+ experts involved can be sorted into two main categories, technical recommendations (1./2.) and organizational recommendations (3.):
  1. Regarding smart grid devices, these devices are now exposed to different networks, and therefore their periodic update becomes essential in order to ensure that they are protected against the latest threats that appear. Furthermore, these devices should also implement by default security measures to protect them (such as authentication, encryption or frame counters), as implementing such measures in the deployment phase is much more costly and does not reach the same level of security.
  2. Regarding the communications interdependencies, the main concern is with the protocols used on the smart grids. There is an urgent need to harmonize the current situation by establishing common interconnection protocols to be used by all devices, and ensure that these protocols implement by default enough security measures to protect the data whilst it is in transit (such as encryption or mutual authentication).
  3. Finally there is the need to align policies, standards and regulations across EU Member States to ensure the overall security of smart grids. This is now even more important due to the risk that cascading failures can cause; as smart grid communication networks are no longer limited by physical or geographical barriers, and an attack on one country could translate into another.
Recommendation 2 states: Manufacturers and vendors should foster intercommunication protocol compatibility between devices from different manufacturers and vendors. Currently, many manufacturers and vendors, due to the lack of standards, make use of their own proprietary protocols and communication systems for the intercommunication between their devices
The experts state: There are several common technologies and protocols that are used for the intercommunication between these devices and the rest of the transmission grid network. One of the most relevant ones is the IEC 61850 protocol family, which is applicable to this grid section
Ok! I fully agree with these statements!
Click HERE for the full report [pdf, 50+ pages].

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