The study currently focuses on the Central New York area, but with the aid of the additional US$ 48 900, will expand the data privacy study to include Northern California, Houston and Michigan’s Detroit/Ann Arbor areas

Global energy protection initiative Energy Cyber Security Centre (ECSC) is recruiting international utilities in the run-up to its launch in September this year.

Australian utilities are being encouraged to get involved with the centre as their “use of smart meters and other infrastructure technologies make it a good source of partners for future security research”, said founder and president Daniel Jammer of energy cyber security firm Nation-E, which is behind ECSC, report local media sources.

The centre will open in Israel later this year and will provide a testing and proving ground – called the Energy Cyber Security Training Arena – for the testing and evaluation of energy equipment security protections.

Protecting infrastructure

Simulation of real-world energy crises and the maintenance of an energy-device performance database will provide a centre of gravity for an industry that Nation-E founder said can no longer, in the wake of attacks like that instigated by the StuxNet worm, afford to take infrastructure security for granted.

Commenting on the implementation of smart devices such as meters, Daniel Jammer told CSO Australia: “The new future of energy has a lot of good things to offer, but the digitalisation and the open network make it so vulnerable that you need to understand how to protect it.”

“Everybody understands that our vulnerability in the energy sector can damage GDP but it is not an easy task because the threat has no face and we don’t know today if our systems are already infringed.”

He added: “The problem is that you cannot make an old system new, but we have to teach, educate, and mitigate all these problems. The combination between an off-grid SCADA system and a new endpoint security system, I think, is the way to go.”

Monitoring critical networks

Nation-E has spent the last four years developing software to support the ECSC and will launch it in September with the hope of bringing government organisations and private enterprises onboard to improve overall security.

Rather than simply patching up existing systems, a key focus will be on improving the monitoring of critical SCADA and other networks by adding connected, secured and manageable observation nodes. “On an IT level the vulnerability is already so big that it’s hard to say investing any specific amount into the network will secure you better,” Jammer explained.