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Securing Smart Grid Devices

Authored on: Sep 6, 2010 by Bill Graham

Technical Paper

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Energy providers and governments worldwide are looking for ways to upgrade their energy systems. A big part of these efforts is the smart grid concept, which introduces networking and automation across the electrical system. The smart grid can give consumers and suppliers alike better monitoring and control of power consumption, leading to increased reliability, higher efficiency, and lower costs. However, computerization and connectivity bring with them the threat of security breaches and attacks.
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cdhmanning Posted Mar 6, 2011

Looks costly. Designers want to be able to make smart grid nodes that meet all of these: 1) Low cost, single chip micro solutions. Less than $10 per node. If it is expensive then it won't get off the ground. 2) Low power. What's the point of smart grids if the "smart" part consumes all the benefits? Circuits need to be able to run for years on small cheap batteries. 3) Small. It has to be rugged (small circuits are more rugged) to be reliable. The enclosure sizes cannot be significantly larger than current enclosures. It would seem that the proposal put forward here does not satisfy any of those conditions.

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FluidCamp Posted Apr 15, 2011

Are these three for HAN (home area network) part of smart grid, or for T&D (transmission and distribution) part? In the HAN most devices need to meet all three targets that cdmanning lists. In the T&D and the industrial part of the smart grid, only the simple wireless sensors need to meet that low-cost target. The smart part that takes current and voltage and _____ and computes power and ___,___ ... for T&D can scavenge energy enough for this virtual method for security. AND security IS that important --- for: 1) security of operation, (ask DHS) 2) security of privacy of people -- distributions customers (end users -- else only early adopters will adopt networking to save by providing Negawatts), 3) security of accounting between all the parties of the current model of deregulation. And crypo technologies will not provide reliable security over the installed life cycle of these devices. Once a few thousand dollars are spent on bucket truck operations and database registration and validation, utilities and industrial users do not want to physically repeat that expense in a few years. If the battery will not yet last 20+ years, there is an opportunity for tools that do.

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FluidCamp Posted Apr 15, 2011

Sorry it all ran together --- Are these three for HAN (home area network) part of smart grid, or for T&D (transmission and distribution) part? In the HAN most devices need to meet all three targets that cdmanning lists. In the T&D and the industrial part of the smart grid, only the simple wireless sensors need to meet that low-cost target. The smart part that takes current and voltage and _____ and computes power and ___,___ ... for T&D can scavenge energy enough for this virtual method for security. AND security IS that important --- for: 1) security of operation, (ask DHS) 2) security of privacy of people -- distributions customers (end users -- else only early adopters will adopt networking to save by providing Negawatts), 3) security of accounting between all the parties of the current model of deregulation. And crypo technologies will not provide reliable security over the installed life cycle of these devices. Once a few thousand dollars are spent on bucket truck operations and database registration and validation, utilities and industrial users do not want to physically repeat that expense in a few years. If the battery will not yet last 20+ years, there is an opportunity for tools that do.

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