March 16, 2009 By Corey McKenna
The economic stimulus package signed by President Obama in February contains $11 billion for smart grid technology. With all the improvements that the Smart Grid is expected to bring, it will contain several places for potential vulnerabilities. Smart grids combine several pieces of technology including special meters, wireless networks, and software - not to mention existing systems. The integration of these pieces poses significant security challenges. Advanced metering infrastructure is a command and control system that contains millions of nodes and touches every consumer and many businesses. Because of this, building robust security into the system as it is implemented is paramount.
To ensure that security is built in to the grid from the beginning, the Advanced Metering Infrastructure Security Task Force last week announced a first draft of what it is calling a working document that provides guidance to utilities and supporting companies on building security into the roll out of the smart grid to make it as secure as possible.
The utility industry recognized that advanced metering infrastructure changes the face of traditional utility security by extending two-way communications all the way to the customer premise. "As our nation's utilities quickly work to implement innovative Smart Grid technologies, it is critical that we work together to ensure cyber security is built in from the beginning," said Hank Kenchington, deputy assistant secretary for R&D in the Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
The effort, coordinated by the DOE, included other federal government organizations, national laboratories, leading utilities and security research organizations.
The AMI-SEC Task Force developed the requirements by consulting commonly accepted practices in both industry and government. Member utilities of the task force unanimously voted to approve the AMI System Security Requirements document in December 2008.
"The AMI System Security Requirements represents a landmark for the entire utility industry and sets the bar for the security of smart grid systems, especially advanced metering infrastructure," said Wayne Longcore, director of enterprise architecture and standards for Consumers Energy, a major Michigan electric and natural gas utility.