Smart Grid

May 07, 2013

Cisco Secures the Smart Grid Perimeters

According to the Global Post, just last week, the U.S. military revealed that a hacker had infiltrated a government database for a period of several months, gaining access to detailed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers information regarding possible vulnerabilities in U.S. infrastructure—including information on 79,000 dams and the estimated number of deaths if a given dam failed.

As hacking becomes the latest form of terrorist attack, U.S. utilities are sitting up and taking notice. The core mission of utilities, as well as their regulatory mandate, is to provide safe and reliable power. With that in mind, this week, Silicon Valley-based Cisco Systems Inc., a provider of utility network hardware, announced expanded solutions and services to help utilities enhance grid operations with greater levels of automation and security.

Cisco (News - Alert) services, products and solutions control access to critical utility assets, monitor the network, mitigate threats, and protect physical facilities. The Cisco Connected Grid Security Architecture is a blueprint that simplifies policy administration, strengthens security controls and gives business more flexibility and increased visibility into operations. It relies on a layered architecture that connects the communications network with the electric power network—and uses the communications network to detect, control, alert and mitigate against threats.  

Context-aware policies are enforced across the entire utility infrastructure network to meet rapidly evolving regulatory requirements and correlate directly with potential threats and business rules. Cisco Security Intelligence Operation (SIO) is used for real-time insight into the global threat environment for proactive notifications.

Cisco also is providing extra levels of physical security to its utility platforms—offering integrated video surveillance and physical access control tools, including card readers and sensor networks, for monitoring the status and location of assets and users.

What’s more, Cisco Services for Grid Security assists utilities in defining security requirements, developing future-state grid security architectures, coordinating the deployment and integration of security solutions, and delivering ongoing optimization and managed services.

Lionel Chocron, vice president and general manager of Cisco Connected Energy Networks business unit, commented, "Enhancements to our Connected Grid portfolio continue to reinforce Cisco's vision of an IP-enabled grid– one that transforms the way energy is produced and distributed. Through our architectural approach via the GridBlocks reference model, we are addressing top-of-mind utility concerns around security and automation." 

Edited by Alisen Downey