Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Cyber-security specialist Wurldtech unveils Smart Grid initiatives

July 13, 2009
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Vancouver-based Wurldtech Security Technologies, a provider of industrial cyber-security testing and certification solutions for critical infrastructure industries, revealed a detailed strategic initiative designed to help improve the security of the Smart Grid.

The effort includes the addition of wireless communication capabilities into the award-winning Achilles Satellite security and robustness testing platform to diagnose and remediate vulnerabilities in Smart Grid technology; the expansion of the Achilles cyber-security certification program to include resilience benchmarks for smart grid devices and applications; and the creation of the world’s first cyber security research institute and global center of excellence focused on vulnerability analysis and cyber-threat metrics for Smart Grid infrastructure.

“The Smart Grid is critical to our sustainable energy future,” said Tyler Williams, CEO of Wurldtech, “but the bulk power industry has had little necessity for cyber security in the past because critical control networks were isolated from the litany of IT threats that could jeopardize process integrity and reliability. The advantages of Smart Grid however, require increased connectivity, including a reliance on the internet, and if we don’t move quickly to make functional security an integral part of the Smart Grid initiatives, we may find ourselves in the unfavorable position of attempting to fix the car while driving at full speed.”

The Achilles Satellite is a unique stand-alone platform designed to allow equipment manufacturers of all sizes to conduct standardized cyber security and robustness testing to identify vulnerabilities in IP-enabled computers systems before their deployed in critical infrastructure networks. In fact today, the Achilles testing technology is relied upon by almost all major global automation vendors and has made enormous improvements in both the reliability and resilience of the computer systems that operate critical infrastructure around the world.


By adding additional capabilities to the Achilles platform, enabling security testing over common smart grid protocols such as IEC 61850/870, and the new wireless protocols based on 802.11 and 802.15.4 (WirelessHART, ISA100.11a and Zigbee), suppliers of smart grid devices and applications can benefit from the same advantages previously reserved for the traditional SCADA and control system vendors.

“There is no reason why any device, system or software application that is found on a critical control network should be deployed without going through rigorous security and robustness testing with technologies like Achilles” said Greg Garcia, former assistant secretary for cyber security from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “Having the required subject matter expertise, the proven technology to identify and diagnose vulnerabilities, and the infrastructure to categorize threats and proactively distribute effective mitigations, Wurldtech’s solutions will provide the functional security core that the Smart Grid initiatives need.”

Williams said, however, that these initiatives alone will not provide the layers of functional security necessary to protect the Smart Grid from intrusion or accidental disruption. “We have been working tirelessly over the past eight months with numerous energy industry end-users on an exciting new initiative and are extremely pleased to announce today the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Wurldtech and The University of British Columbia (UBC). The MOU provides the framework for Wurltech and UBC to create the world’s first global centre of excellence in cyber security.”

Funded directly by leading energy companies, government agencies and other industry stakeholders, and focusing, the Centre of Excellence will consist of three distinct components:

A Cyber Security Testing & Certification Test Bed and Demonstration Center: a multi-million dollar test bed designed to replicate high-availability control networks and advanced metering infrastructure currently being constructed to support the on-going analysis of Smart Grid and control system infrastructure, for security, safety and interoperability issues.

An International Applied Cyber Security Research & Assessment Team: A centrally managed, but distributed, multi-disciplinary team of cyber security subject matter experts, private sector and academic researchers to conduct both applied research and consulting services based on roadmap requirements directly from end-users.

A Web-based Knowledge Portal: An information coordination center to provide symmetric information, without restriction, to qualified users. This portal will act as the conduit for workplace cyber security training and education as well as online certification and training courses covering the emerging functional security issues in the critical infrastructure industries and the Smart Grid.

“Wurldtech is responsible for yet another game-changer,” says Ted Angevaare, Shell Global Solutions’ global manager of process control security and architecture. “A focused private-sector effort with activities directed by end-users and managed by an organization with clearly demonstrated industry stewardship, subject matter expertise, and an understanding of the issues and fundamental needs of the industry – this is a recipe for success. Shell is proud to be amongst the many supporters of this effort and we look forward to contributing our expertise to the combined knowledge base so that the entire community can benefit.”

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