NIST look to update smart grid interoperability framework


According to GCN, NIST lat updated its Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards in September 2014. Writing for GCN, Sara Friedman said: “With attacks on the electric grid seen as increasingly plausible, cybersecurity was top of mind [at the August 17/18 advisory committee meeting].”

Electronics engineer and project leader at NIST’s computer security division, Nelson Hastings, led a discussion about the importance of keeping smart grid devices secure without creating latency.

Hastings said: “We are profiling performance of smart grid devices when cybersecurity capabilities are enabled.”

NIST security solutions

NIST is reported to be developing technology to assess the impact of security solutions on grid edge devices, which it defines as smart meters, thermostats and HVAC  heating and cooling systems.

Work is also being done to assess the effects of enabling encryption on smart meters, inverters, EV charging stations and thermostats, adds Friedman.

Business development leader with GE’s SmartGrid Strategy Group North America expressed his concern around adding cybersecurity measures into devices could impact their performance. He suggested putting the security technology into the network gateway rather than the device itself. [Grid automation drives increase in utility cybersecurity investments – report]

“You can have the same level of security by putting it at a different device level like in the gateway, but you need to look at architectural tradeoffs,” McDonald said. “I’m not sacrificing the cyber capability, but I’m making the total system less expensive.”

Avi Gopstein, NIST Smart Grid Programme Manager also explained that smart grid systems have changed with the ownership of assets coming now from the service owners.

“The question of asset ownership is very important, and it is a dynamic area of understanding right now,” Gopstein said. “We are struggling with what it means for consumer provider devices, service devices and utility devices on the system.”

Work on the revised NIST framework will focus on the smart grid technology layers: conceptual, logical, physical and implementation. It will build on version 3.0, which took a conceptual model and made the framework into an architectural discussion.

NIST is seeking input from the public on operations, economics, cybersecurity, testing and certification with a focus on the changing architecture of the smart grid.

“We want to leverage some of the current research,” Gopstein said. “For each of these topics, we want to partner with an organization to hold a workshop in the field to get input from the community.”