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Created in 2003, the National SCADA Test Bed (NSTB) is a one-of-a-kind national resource that draws on the integrated expertise and capabilities of the Argonne, Idaho, Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest, and Sandia National Laboratories to address the cybersecurity challenges of energy delivery systems.

Core and Frontier Research

The NSTB core capabilities combine a network of the national labs' state-of-the-art operational system testing facilities with expert research, development, analysis, and training to discover and address critical security vulnerabilities and threats the energy sector faces. NSTB offers testing and research facilities, encompassing field-scale control systems, and advanced visualization and modeling tools.

The Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems (CEDS) program supports Frontier research efforts that add to the core NSTB capabilities. Frontier research is game-changing cybersecurity research applicable to energy delivery systems that is in the early stages of development. In FY2012, the combined Core and Frontier funding was approximately $8 million. Core and Frontier R&D projects being conducted by national laboratories that comprise the NSTB include:

  • Los Alamos National Laboratory is researching quantum key distribution (QKD) to exchange cryptographic keys that are then used in traditional algorithms to encrypt energy sector information, including smart grid data. In December 2012, the lab successfully demonstrated QKD on the University of Illinois test bed in collaboration with the CEDS-funded Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid (TCIPG) project.
  • Idaho National Laboratory is developing a methodology to allow energy sector stakeholders to analyze technical, cybersecurity threat information and understand how those threats affect their overall risk posture. The methodology provides a framework for analyzing technical security data and correlating that data with threat patterns, allowing stakeholders to formulate an appropriate response to a given threat.
  • Sandia National Laboratories is investigating moving target defenses to better secure the energy sector against attack by eliminating the class of adversaries that relies on known static addresses of critical infrastructure network devices. This project is automatically reconfiguring network settings and randomizing application communications dynamically to convert control systems into moving targets that proactively defend themselves against attack.
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is considering the physical limitations of devices to develop specifications and enhanced monitoring techniques that can determine when a system does or is about to violate a protocol, which may be the result of external or internal threats. This project is also researching methods of delegating cyber and physical protection responsibilities to low level sensors and actuators.
  • Argonne National Laboratory supports efforts to develop and deploy control system standards, including the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61850 substation automation standard and trustworthy wireless standards through the Industrial Society of Automation (ISA) working groups. Argonne applies its oil and natural gas industry subject-matter expertise in these and other NSTB efforts.

Laboratory-Led Projects

Using Research Calls, mid-term research, development, and demonstrations lead to next generation capabilities that are expected to become widely adopted for enhancing the cybersecurity of communication and control systems used within the energy sector. The Research Calls are a competitive solicitation among DOE’s national laboratories, which encourages collaboration among multiple laboratories, vendors, and asset owners. A Research Call conducted in 2012 included the following projects:

  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and projects partners are developing an integrated suite of open source tools and techniques to identify compromise in the hardware, firmware, and software components of energy delivery systems both before commissioning and during period of service. The suite includes a range of stand-alone tools that can be run locally to provide hardware supply chain assurances, to large-scale high-performance computing services that can statistically analyze systems of systems to identify potential concerns in critical infrastructure supply chains.
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory and project partners are developing a Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) capability for the energy sector. The solution decreases cost by enhancing traditional QKD, allowing for multiple clients to communicate over a single quantum channel using low-cost quantum modulators, called AQCESS (Accessible QKD for Cost-Effective Secret Sharing) nodes.

Cybersecurity Related News

New Article on Cybersecurity Discusses DOE’s Partnership with the Energy Sector to Keep the Grid Reliable and Secure

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Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems (CEDS) Research Call

The Department of Energy's (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), on behalf of the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy...

April 15, 2014
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