Creating Better, Defensible Substation Security Architectures

Jan 25, 2024
3 minutes
684 views

The concern over securing electrical grids from advanced attacks deployed by various threat actors, such as nation-states and well-resourced cybercriminals, is increasing. Creating a defensible security architecture for power substations is crucial in safeguarding critical infrastructure and ensuring the reliability of the electrical grid.

Power substations play a pivotal role in the transmission and distribution of electricity, making them attractive targets for malicious actors. A well-designed security architecture helps identify and mitigate vulnerabilities, reducing the risk of cyber attacks, physical breaches and other security breaches.

And while new architectures based on smart, and even cloud-enabled, operational technology (OT) architectures could lead to tremendous operational efficiencies and cost savings, the new cyberattack vectors that come with the technologies and architectures must be secured, and the security must be flexible enough to adapt as the threat landscape evolves.

By implementing robust measures such as access controls, encryption, monitoring systems and intrusion detection, operators can enhance the resilience of power substations, thereby ensuring the uninterrupted supply of electricity to homes, businesses and essential services. Additionally, a defensible security architecture contributes to the overall resilience of the energy sector, protecting against potential disruptions that could have cascading effects on broader societal functions.

At Distributech 2024, I have the honor of co-presenting this important topic with Alex Waitkus, Principal Power Delivery Cybersecurity Architect at Southern Company, a long time thought leader in the area of grid security and critical infrastructure protection. In this session we will take a closer look at:

  • Different strategies for building better visibility in transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure, such as substations and control centers to assets, communications and threats.
  • How security principles and strategies such as ISA 62443 and Zero Trust can be applied and adapted to OT to achieve better protection.
  • How to build a network security architecture and policy base that can be efficiently scaled and maintained across a highly distributed OT infrastructure.

In addition, please join us at booth #3985 on the expo floor to:

  • Connect directly with Palo Alto Networks’ OT experts and learn about our new PA-450R Ruggedized Firewall targeting utility substation applications.
  • Experience personalized OT and IT demos and learn how our technology can be implemented in your existing OT environment.
  • Tour our CyberWall to experience how a multi-method, platform approach can be used to detect and stop an advanced cyber attack across an advanced OT/IT kill.
  • Play our OT Capture the Flag game.

We’d be happy to showcase how our platform makes an integrated OT/IT security strategy possible or answer any other cybersecurity questions you may have. Come see us at Distributech!


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