Wurldtech gears up to help secure smart grid

July 10, 2009

VANCOUVER, BC, Canada — In an announcement today, Wurldtech Security Technologies, a provider of industrial cybersecurity 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 & robustness testing platform to diagnose and remediate vulnerabilities in smart grid technology; the expansion of the Achilles cybersecurity certification program to include resilience benchmarks for smart grid devices and applications; and the creation of the world’s first cybersecurity research institute and global center of excellence for energy infrastructure protection with particular short-term focus on smart grid issues.

“The Smart Grid is critical to our sustainable energy future,” Tyler Williams, CEO of Wurldtech said, “but the bulk power industry has had little necessity for cybersecurity 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 the 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 unfavourable position of attempting to fix the car while driving at full speed.”

The Achilles Satellite is a stand-alone platform designed to allow equipment manufacturers of all sizes to conduct standardized cybersecurity and robustness testing to identify vulnerabilities in IP-enabled computers systems before they're deployed in critical infrastructure networks. 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 Cybersecurity 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.”

As current smart grid standards initiatives by organizations such as NIST and major government get under way, and attention at the congressional level increases, Wurldtech sees cybersecurity standards and certification as a major opportunity to improve the resiliency of smart grid infrastructure if done right.

Williams said, “Consensus-based standards efforts by definition take a long time, and we are fooling ourselves by expecting to have meaningful security and interoperability standards out for the smart grid in the timeframes being considered--especially if we seek heterogeneity, scalability and broad-based stakeholder cooperation. Unfortunately, many also see regulation and public sector involvement as the answer and do not realize that the 800-lb gorilla in the room may in fact do more harm than good.”

Williams’ continues “The good news though is that we have seen this movie before in the oil and gas industry, and what it took was a private sector effort to set the benchmark first, establish the vision, build the business model, delivery mechanisms, and appropriate supportive technologies so the standards community can set realistic objectives to raise the bar intelligently over time. "

Wurldtech hopes to announce the first Achilles-certified smart meter next month and is actively encouraging electric utility end users to follow the stewardship of the oil and gas sector and mandate their suppliers achieve Achilles certification.

Wurldtech has also announced an agreement with the University of British Columbia to develop a Cybersecurity Research Institute and Global Center of Excellence for energy infrastructure protection aimed at promoting global standards and functional cybersecurity consciousness in the energy sector.

Funded directly by leading energy companies, government agencies and other industry stakeholders, the Center of Excellence will consist of three distinct components:
 • A CyberSecurity Testing & Certification Test Bed and Demonstration Center: a multi-million dollar test bed designed to replicate high-availability control networks and advanced metering infrastructure is 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 Cybersecurity Research & Assessment Team: A centrally managed, but distributed, multi-disciplinary team of cyber security subject matter experts, private sector and academic researchers has been formed to conduct both applied research and consulting services based on roadmap requirements directly from end users.
 • A Web-based Knowledge Portal: This information coordination center will provide symmetric information without restriction to qualified users. This portal will act as the conduit for workplace cybersecurity 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.

Further announcements regarding the Center of Excellence will be made in the coming weeks.