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NIST unveils guidelines for smart grid cyber security

Posted: 01 Oct 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Smart Grid  Cybersecurity  power grid  NIST guidelines 

The US NIST has unveiled its first guidelines for smart grid cyber security, including high-level security requirements to protect the modernising power grid from attacks, malicious code, cascading errors and other threats. The report advocates a layered—or "defence in depth"—approach to security. Because cyber security threats are diverse and evolving, the report recommends implementing multiple levels of security.

The product of two formal public reviews and the focus of numerous workshops and teleconferences over the past 17 months, the three-volume set of guidelines is intended to facilitate organisation-specific smart grid cyber security strategies focused on prevention, detection, response and recovery.

The guidelines are the second major output of NIST-coordinated efforts to identify and develop standards needed to convert the nation's ageing electric grid into an advanced, digital infrastructure with two-way capabilities for communicating information, controlling equipment and distributing energy.

"These advisory guidelines are a starting point for the sustained national effort that will be required to build a safe, secure and reliable Smart Grid," said George Arnold, NIST's national coordinator for Smart Grid interoperability. "They provide a technical foundation for utilities, hardware and software manufacturers, energy management service providers, and others to build upon. Each organisation's implementation of cyber security requirements should evolve as technology advances and new threats to grid security arise."

The guidelines identify 137 interfaces—points of data exchange or other types of interactions within or between different Smart Grid systems and sub-systems. These are assigned to one or more of 22 categories on the basis of shared or similar functional and security characteristics. In all, the report details 189 high-level security requirements applicable either to the entire Smart Grid or to particular parts of the grid and associated interface categories.

All three volumes of Guidelines for Smart Grid Cyber Security (NISTIR 7628) can be downloaded.

In its January 2010 report, NIST described a high-level conceptual reference model for the smart grid, identified existing or emerging standards relevant to the ongoing development of an interoperable smart grid, and spelled out several high-priority standards-related gaps and issues that NIST and its partners are now addressing.

The report was prepared by the Cyber Security Working Group (CSWG) of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel, a public-private partnership launched by NIST with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding from the Department of Energy.





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