Smarter protection for the smart grid - McAfee

If a rogue state, terrorist, or malcontent wanted to debilitate a  major city or even an entire country, how could it make a widespread, immediate, and lasting impact? Quite simply, by striking at the facilities that produce and distribute the electrical power that everything else depends on. 

Quelle: McAfee vom Juli 2012

More malware was detected on computer networks in 2011 than in all previous years combined, with critical infrastructure being a prime target. All of this begs the question in many  minds: can a system with so many points of entry, like a house with all the doors and windows left open while the owner is on vacation, really be called “smart”?

Securing the energy grid will require action on three fronts: technical, cultural, and political.

Energy system operators have historically been concerned with three technology domains. The first is the industrial control systems (ICS) that run turbines, generators and other heavy-duty equipment.

The third and perhaps most alarming cause  of vulnerability is the proliferation and increasing interconnection of embedded software and devices directing the flow of energy.

While each of these built-in computers is typically single-function with a very specific task, more and more are being built with off-the-shelf rather than proprietary software, making them increasingly generic—and therefore vulnerable. 

Jason Healy, director of the cyberstatecraft initiative at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, poses this question. “If we set out to design a ‘perfectly bad system’ of energy delivery, so bad that its failure would have catastrophic consequences, what might it look like?” he asks. “First, it would all be interconnected, so that failure in any one area would affect all others. Second, it would connect real things made of concrete and steel, not just silicon, so that failure would cause real physical damage—fires or explosions. And third, we’d connect it to the Internet, knowing that intruders could get into it because they’ve already tried and succeeded. I’m not saying anyone set out to build it that way, but this hypothetical ‘perfectly bad system’ sounds awfully close to what we’re calling 
the smart grid.”

Power providers have been more concerned with energy availability—ensuring a steady supply of energy—and want to have easy access to systems for maintenance and repairs in the event of a blackout. The irony, of course, is that the opportunities for tampering with or seizing control of distribution system pose a significant threat to availability, and the cost of replacing a damaged generator far outweighs the investment required to protect it.

security needs to be built into grid components at the planning and design phase. 

The culture of safety is well defined. The culture of cybersecurity has to get to that same level, and it’s not there yet.”

Grundsätzlich ist eine umfassende Cyber Security für das Smart Grid unverzichtbar. Es darf dabei aber nicht vergessen werden, dass es neben Cyber Angriffen auch noch andere Bedrohungen für ein System gibt, die ebenfalls berücksichtigt werden müssen!

Nicht die möglichen Störvarianten sind relevant, sondern die resiliente Systemgestaltung, damit das System auch auf unvorhergesehene Störungen adäquat reagieren kann und lebensfähig bleibt (Kybernetik)! Daher muss insgesamt mehr Wert auf die Systemsicherheit gelegt werden - kein Fehler im System darf sich auf das gesamte System negativ auswirken! Für ein komplexes System, wie es das Smart Grid durch die steigende Vernetzung wird, ist ein Zellensystem mit dezentraler Steuerung unverzichtbar, sodass es zwar zur lokalen/regionalen Ausfällen kommen kann, aber nicht das gesamte System ge- bzw. zerstört wird  (z. B. Blackout).