New Technologies to Safeguard Cyber Vulnerabilities of Utilities


In a bid to safeguard cyber security vulnerabilities of utilities and other industries, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have resorted to a new approach. The approach is for all industries that use process control technologies for operations. The connected device of process control technologies that are used in operational technology settings are more susceptible to cyber-attacks than IT equipment.

Meanwhile, the research team worked with utility advisors and companies to identify cyber vulnerabilities of utilities. In doing so, the researchers developed two web-based tools to evaluate and mitigate threats inside and outside the firewall.

Software Technologies capable of working jointly

Among the two, the first tool is an easy-to-use software application. It helps utility companies quickly detect control system devices that are connected to the internet and their known susceptibility. The second is a non-disruptive and safe way to identify vulnerabilities in energy delivery systems that can come up inside a utility’s firewall.

Both the technologies to detect vulnerabilities of utilities were developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the Office of Cyber security, Energy Security, and Emergency Response of the U.S. Department of Energy. Low cost, to be able to used jointly, and designed for easy use by control room operators and utility staff, who are not trained for cyber security systems  are the plus of the two technologies.

Mitigation of Externally Exposed Energy Delivery Systems (MEEDS) for monitors and detects internet-connected devices for energy delivery system. These are devices that are usually located in the field, and are vulnerable to cyber-attack.

“Threat elements can utilize these devices to gain control of critical networks and systems,” said the principal investigator at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. MEEDS provides a solution to alleviate externally exposed energy delivery systems without decline or drop of services.

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