Providing Utility Executives with Practical Cyber Security Solutions for the Smart Grid

Client: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability
secure binary code Securing Tomorrow's Grid article cover Securing Tomorrow's Grid article introduction spread Securing Tomorrow's Grid article spread

Project Overview

Nexight Group collaborated with the U.S. Department of Energy and UtiliSec to prepare a two-part feature article that clarifies misconceptions about the cyber security of the smart grid. Our award-winning article was aimed at utility managers and executives and delivers practical information on how to configure systems and mitigate vulnerabilities.

Need

Utility managers and executives may be delaying smart grid investments due to uncertainties about cyber security. As utilities add smart digital devices throughout the electric grid to improve efficiency and reliability, they must ensure these devices do not increase cyber risks. Utility executives need clear, unbiased information that is sufficiently technical yet succinct to allow them to make informed choices and take needed action.

Our Solution

When senior utility executives understand the business case for robust cyber security, practices improve throughout the organization. We worked with cyber security experts at DOE and UtiliSec to articulate how systems can be secured and how continued public-private partnerships will be critical to future success. We synthesized multiple technical resources into priority cybersecurity challenges and leading best practices for an executive audience. The white paper featured:

  • A structured discussion of the benefits, vulnerabilities, and best practice mitigations for three widely used technologies: home area networks, advanced metering infrastructure, and phasor measurement on transmission lines
  • Real-life case studies of secure architectures for each technology type
  • State-of-the-art research and collaborative industry-government approaches to improving cyber security for the smart grid

Public Utilities Fortnightly, a leading journal for utility executives, excerpted the white paper in a two-part cover article for their July and August 2011 issues.

Impact

Thousands of journal copies reached top management in the energy industry through subscriptions and circulation at leading industry conferences. The two-part article won an International Award for Excellence from the Society for Technical Communication. Judges described this piece as “highly professional communication on issues of significant national importance,” with editing that “has no noticeable flaws” and information that “appears to be comprehensive and well-organized.”

Products

Securing Tomorrow’s Grid-Part I
Securing Tomorrow’s Grid-Part II
(Distinguished Award, Society for Technical Communication, D.C. Chapter Technical Publication Competition 2011-2012; Excellence Award, Society for Technical Communication 2012 International Summit Awards Competition)

Relevant Technical Expertise

Cyber Security