In power utility substations, communications failure is not an option. IEC 61850 and IEEE 1613 provide comprehensive requirements for equipment capabilities in a hostile environment as well as advanced technologies to improve substation automation. The IEC 61850 model advances the global standard for all substation communications needs, and, transport mechanism for this global standard is Ethernet. Read more
In Part 1 of “Substation Security with Strategic Zones of Protection,” we introduced the idea that an Ethernet-based Zones of Security strategy can offer a security umbrella for your substation. But, Ethernet also provides the flexibility and rich supporting protocols and applications that enable a utility to create the powerful Zones of Protection for both physical and cyber assets. Ethernet offers several other critical advantages for substations:
With current IEDs supporting Ethernet technologies, 100MB is a typical bandwidth, and is several orders of magnitude faster than serial ports. Speeds of 1GB and 10GB are on the horizon.
Ethernet allows multiple users to access the same IED at the same time. As an example, a user can access an IED for viewing and changing of settings or uploading historical data at the same time SCADA is polling the IED for real-time data.
Ethernet allows multiple protocols to run on the same network at the same time. This makes it possible for the user (described above) to use vendor-supplied software and protocols at the same time SCADA is accessing the same IED with a different protocol.
A hybrid Ethernet/serial substation architecture is the most common architecture for a substation today Hybrid architectures allow utilities to take advantage of serial equipment in place, simplify communication and increase bandwidth among various parts of the utility, and take advantage of the security capabilities of Ethernet that reduce risk.
A hybrid or full Ethernet architecture requires multiple levels of protection. They include protection against unauthorized users (authentication); protection against authorized network users accessing devices or control for which they are not authorized (authorization), and protection against snooping and hacking.
Introducing a number of simple security elements into a power utility substation and distribution network will significantly reduce the risk of physical or cyber attacks.
To learn more these security elements and how to implement them, you can now download the white paper: Securing the Substation with Strategic Zones of Protection
Smart grids collect a wealth of intelligence, beginning at the edge with Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs) that collect valuable information such as fault location, relay targets and customer usage in increasingly fine granularity which then is transmitted to the central control area to support the smart grid. Protective relays, meters, remote terminal units, LTC/regulator controllers, and predictive maintenance equipment also are becoming rich sources of data that can be made readily available to remote users. This new information requires increased communications bandwidth and a secure strategy for transporting the information to its destination points throughout the utility.
As power utility stakeholders address the challenges of creating end-to-end security for their smart grids, operations groups can benefit from a “Zones of Protection” strategy protection relay engineers have employed for some time to keep utility grids and equipment safe from fault and system unbalances. Read more