Data Diode Cybersecurity for Power Transmission & Distribution

Data Diode Cybersecurity for Power Transmission & Distribution

The power grid and its associated bulk electric systems represent millions of disparate systems connected in networks that range from a single building to thousands of square miles. As a keystone of any country’s infrastructure, power grid systems and devices are prime targets for cyber attacks. In the second half of 2017, no sector was targeted more among industrial control system malware attacks1. Unfortunately, these systems are also often under-protected. From substations and transmission equipment, to new microgrids and small scale power generation, nearly every facet of the electric grid faces the growing threat of cyberattack from increasingly sophisticated adversaries. From targeted malware to accidental touchpoint breaches, bad actors and their bots are constantly searching for new targets to breach, map, and stage attacks. Any system connected to the internet, either directly or indirectly, is a potential target. Adding fuel to this fire is the recent release of a number of exploits2 for major brands of software firewalls, generally the first line of defense for distributed systems, and Windows-based operating systems. Last year, it was discovered that hackers had attempted or successfully infiltrated nearly every major power generation and grid network in the United States. There are also often critical grid systems and applications that cannot be patched because they are outdated, inaccessible, have no free memory, or more commonly because they work as is, and no one wants to risk an update. That being said, even being “up-to-date” doesn’t necessarily mean that all vulnerabilities have been patched. It’s possible that no one, outside of a few elite hackers, knows the vulnerabilities exist, so again there is no way to patch.

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