We collaborate, together with other Basque companies, in the development of mechanisms to guarantee a cybersecure electrical grid

4 Apr 2022
Thanks to the TrueValSec project, several companies have joined forces to develop innovative security technologies for the smart grid. The project has counted with the collaboration of Iberdrola, the support of the Basque Government through the R&D support program Hazitek, and the co-financing of the European Union through the ERDF

Arteche has joined Ingeteam Power Technology (project leader), Enigmedia, Iberdrola, Ormazabal Protection & Automation, PwC, Zigor, and ZIV Aplicaciones y Tecnologías, as well as Ikerlan and Cúster GAIA, to collaborate for several months in the TrueValSecproject (Trust Technologies for Smart Grid value chain Cybersecurity).

Its objective has been the generation of new innovative, verifiable and scalable cybersecurity technologies, "that allow building, from collaboration, long-term solutions to meet the business and competitiveness challenges of the electronic sector in the smart grids of the future". In short, the idea is to provide innovative technologies as a solution to the cybersecurity challenges facing the electricity sector, and to do so through a formula of collaborative innovation, which has meant an unprecedented cultural change for the participating companies.

"What we have been working on at TrueValSec is defensive cybersecurity, taking into account all the elements that make up the value chain. In other words: establish more advanced defense mechanisms to try to make the power grid impenetrable. These types of cybersecurity measures, aimed at preventing any type of attack, are undoubtedly the most important in a changing world, so we must invest in them," explains Imanol García, Head of Cybersecurity at Ingeteam's UN Power Grid Automation.

Arteche, certified according to the IEC 62443-4-1

As a result of the project, an initiative that has been supported by the Basque Government through the R&D support program Hazitek 2021 and co-financed by the European Union through ERDF funds, the participating companies have developed: the specification of cybersecurity needs in the entire value chain of the electric grid; low latency encryption systems, new functionalities, and methodologies/tests for a much more advanced analysis and evaluation of cybersecurity in the devices that are part of the smart grid. "The idea is that we will be able to subject equipment to much more advanced testing in the future, to be able to detect vulnerability and prevent potential cyberattacks."

Control and automation equipment that make up cubersecure SmartGrids

Within the framework of the project, and among other points, the "chain of trust" has been worked on, analyzing how to extend its scope by covering all the elements present: from the operator to the manufacturers of end devices, deliveries, installation, and integration in the electrical network system of the multiple components of different nature that integrate it to guarantee a cyber-secure network "from beginning to end". Imanol García adds in this regard that "everything that can be developed collaboratively to prevent attacks on the network and establish appropriate contingency plans for possible energy cyber-attacks, especially in infrastructures considered critical, is essential."
 
Furthermore, he points out, "doing it collaboratively, even with competing companies, has been a novelty because of the change in philosophy involved in working together in such a critical area as cybersecurity. We are large companies with cutting-edge technical teams and, when we started to share cybersecurity issues, we found that we all won," says Imanol García.

The GAIA Cluster, for its part, adds that the cybersecurity of the value chain of the electricity sector is an area of work with a long way to go: "All stakeholders perceive the need to address it in the short term, from equipment manufacturers to integrators, operators and service providers, and from GAIA we will continue to work along these lines." 

They also point out that the Basque Autonomous Community has the ideal ecosystem to successfully undertake this type of project, "as it has a leading operator at world level, and the necessary industrial and technological framework."
 

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