ViaSat, US Department of Energy Boost Cybersecurity Framework for Distributed Energy Grids

DGM NREL ViaSat

NREL work Aug. 25, 2015 on a Secure Distribution Grid Management (DGM) testbed for cyber security in power systems. Photo: Dennis Schroeder / NREL

[Via Satellite 02-16-2016] ViaSat has successfully completed vulnerability assessment, penetration testing and secure network implementation for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Distribution Grid Management (DGM) system test bed, which is being used to develop an end-to-end empirically validated cybersecurity architecture for smart grid applications. NREL performs research on different types of renewable energy and other Distributed Energy Resources (DER) to learn how these energy resources can be reliably and securely integrated into the electric grid at the transmission, distribution and end-use levels.With support from ViaSat and a select group of partners, NREL set out to develop an end-to-end cybersecurity architecture for a distribution system with DER.

To accomplish this, NREL created an end-to-end DGM system test bed capable of emulating a variety of power systems, use cases involving core distribution system assets and DER assets. ViaSat tested, assessed and helped improve the cybersecurity of the DGM system through stringent penetration tests, which initially exposed a critical operational technology vulnerability that could be used to disrupt power delivery in a real-world scenario. Prior to a second penetration test, ViaSat assisted NREL by hardening the test bed. These improvements increased the overall security posture of the DGM 2.0 network, which proved capable of withstanding multiple exploits through successive layers of security, keeping the critical energy control system assets protected.

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