Cyber Security – Key to Robust Integration of Distributed Energy Resources
Cyber Security: Today, many startups and companies are developing robust and integrated cybersecurity solutions in line with distributed energy resources. While advanced cybersecurity solutions for energy utilities indicate an optimistic future, the consistent penetration across distributed energy resources is bound to increase devices controlled and owned by consumers.
Moreover, these devices rely on digital control and communications that increase the risk of cyber threats and attacks. The need of the hour dictates a holistic and resilient framework to ensure DER integration without impacting grid stability and reliability. The main focus is on the physical power system’s cybersecurity and infrastructure that are more likely to be breached.
Role of Cybersecurity and DER Integration
The next-gen power utilities can leverage DERs to minimize transmission costs, reduce operational risk, and get added voltage support through autonomous operations. In distributed energy resources space, aggregators and users have to maintain full control over the consumed and produced power. Apart from standard operational and sustainability goals, cybersecurity initiatives should be DER-supported and cater to diverse power systems. The key is to thoroughly review cybersecurity for DERs. The future of DERs is interoperable and interconnected, and cybersecurity elements should focus on remotely controllable elements.
In the context of DER integration, there are unique cybersecurity challenges. Ideally, there should be a systematic DER resilience to develop quantifiable and practical design principles and metrics. It is also imperative to roll out attack detection, prevention, and response mechanism to measure the Distributed Energy Resources integration across physical devices, utility, and cyber layers.
The cybersecurity outlook around distributed energy resources involves many attacks, impacts, mitigations, and vulnerabilities. On the bright side, decentralization and digitalization of power grids can environmentally and economically create a sustainable future.
In the quest to achieve this goal, distributed energy resources, including battery storage, electric vehicles, and solar panels have to be in the spotlight. But to maintain streamlined and ubiquitous power systems, an effective cybersecurity response is crucial.
Distributed Energy Resources Communications – What to focus on?
- DER communication relies on diverse architectures, including software/hardware components, inverters, embedded devices, and controllable loads. Utilities should expand the this threat surface and improve overall posture to support different power systems.
- Cybersecurity should focus on physical and cyber layers of distributed energy resources to avoid compromising grid operations.
- It should be reviewed how device and protocol levels can trigger different vulnerabilities and mutate into severe cyber-attacks, impacting power systems.
- Cybersecurity mitigation strategies should be focused upon to address directions and adversaries ofDistributed Energy Resources integration in the foreseeable future.
Key Cybersecurity Recommendations for DER
- Implement the best practices to meet basic security requirements
- DER providers can use multi-factor authentication and other encryption tools to secure interconnected devices
- Adopt a robust governance model and focus on design security across DER and utility systems
- Make cybersecurity a priority for suppliers, customers, and employees
- Incentivize cybersecurity to make systems highly resilient to cyber attacks
- Move past conventional cybersecurity standards to detect cyber threats and implement a zero-trust approach to validate and verify data and commands
Cybersecurity Startups Offering Robust Solutions for Distributed Energy Resources
Incompatible tech in OT and IT environments makes cyber risks worse. Claroty, an American-based startup, provides unique cybersecurity solutions to address these specific challenges.
The startup company provides a dedicated platform to resolve industrial cybersecurity issues that energy utilities face in OT and IT environments. Claroty’s cybersecurity solution improves IT network and OT asset visibility. It also makes it easier to perform segmentation, threat detection, vulnerability management, and risk assessment. Consequently, it secures remote access to energy utilities to operate safely.
Qubitekk is an American cybersecurity startup that offers machine-to-machine quantum cryptography solutions that strengthen power grid security. Quantum cryptography technology uses protected photos that protect undetected or unobserved cyber tempering.
Qubitekk is also collaborating with major utility companies to test its quantum cryptography for the safe encryption and authentication of automated devices.
Electric utilities continue digitizing their networks, operations, and assets to improve overall efficiency and provide optimized services. But digitizing increases the exposure risk to cyber threats and attacks.
CyberDesk startup consolidates cybersecurity and provides a multi-layered strategy to detect, mitigate, and prevent cyber-attacks. Furthermore, multi-layered cybersecurity service solutions can prevent or minimize cyber attacks throughout critical infrastructure, including IoT systems.
With the digitizing of power distribution and generation systems, network control systems have become more complex. Consequently, it has become difficult for energy utilities to implement cybersecurity practices that guarantee protection from malware attacks, hacker attacks, and other unknown vulnerabilities.
Rhebo is a startup that focuses on industrial-scale network monitoring to address these issues. Rhebo provides industrial cybersecurity solutions that allow cybersecurity teams to monitor wider networks and detect real-time anomalies.
Nozomi Networks offers industrial-scale network vulnerability evaluation to energy utilities to compartmentalize hundreds or thousands of devices. Most interconnected devices lack security, which is not suitable for critical infrastructure.
Additionally, the American-based startup offers unique solutions to safeguard power generation, distribution, and transmission to networks and improve operational reliability and visibility.
Nozomi Networks offers a cybersecurity solution to spot system vulnerabilities automatically and visualize these vulnerabilities at security levels. It allows cybersecurity experts to focus on high-risk exposure elements.
Cybersecurity and Distributed Energy Resources Integration: What Lies Ahead?
It has become crucial to take prompt and strategic actions to secure future systems. It is also crucial to engage with key stakeholders in the DER industry and develop the best cybersecurity practices. Broad DER industry participation is important to develop DER cybersecurity standards.
The U.S. Department of Energy plans to fund more research for the next generation of DER integration, which prioritizes design-based security to maintain cybersecurity across de-carbonized grids. Moreover, it is expected that more deployment of distributed energy resources will happen in the future. Securing them in the right way will help make the grids more resilient to usual outages and, in turn, help hit the clean energy targets.