Securing Energy IoT Systems End-to-End

On June 2, the EPA announced an ambitious goal for the US Energy industry—a 30% cut in power plant carbon emissions by 2030. This will have a significant impact not only on the generation side, but also on transmission and distribution across the electric grid. Environmental and regulation drivers such as this are forcing utilities and the energy industry overall to further leverage the smart grid to create efficiencies and optimize systems.

The transition is happening now and is accelerating with the Internet of Things (IoT). Devices, sensors, and gateways are becoming networked together and connected to the cloud, providing opportunities for increased efficiencies, more robust reliability, and new services. However, system designers need to bear in mind that each new connected device represents a new attack surface for systems that need to be accounted for.

Intel addresses end-to-end solution protection for the Internet of Things in the following areas:

  • Anti-Malware: Giving malware nowhere to hide
  • Resiliency: Always updated resilient systems
  • Identity: Simple access with advanced security
  • Data Protection: Making data safe from theft or alteration

An example of IoT security for the electric grid that takes into account each one of these areas is a collaboration between Intel and Electric Power Group (EPG) for a security fabric demonstration that meets all the seven NIST IR 7628 Guidelines. Hosted at Texas Tech University and supported by ERCOT, the project uses synchrophasors with wide-area visualization to constantly monitor the status of the grid, diagnose it, and allow operators to act when needed.

The security fabric provides the following enhanced security management features:

  • Monitors dynamic operational security states based on risk
  • Provides security and trust visualization tools
  • Enables enhanced security configurability to improve user experience and reduce human error

I recently participated in an Energy Central webinar along with Lorie Wigle of McAfee and Vikram Budhraja of EPG to discuss how utilities can capture the benefits of IoT without introducing new business risk. I encourage you to view to the on-demand webcast: IoT Is Changing the Energy Industry – Prepare with the Right Security.

What are your questions around securing IoT systems? Let me know in the comments below and feel free to contact me on Twitter: @Intel_Shahram.

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