Amid the alarming increase in cybersecurity threats to America’s commercial, defense and homeland security power grids, the Intelligent Power & Energy Research Corporation (IPERC) announced that the Department of Defense (DoD) has accredited the company’s GridMaster control system at Camp Smith, Hawaii with Platform IT Risk Approval (PRA).
The accreditation marks the first and only DoD accreditation of an installation microgrid control system, which, for commercial and utility customers, is a strong validation of GridMaster’s technological approach.
“The first-ever military accreditation of a microgrid control system provides commercial microgrid integrators, and customers such as utilities and municipalities, a high level of confidence that a GridMaster-controlled microgrid will exceed their requirements for information assurance and cybersecurity,” said IPERC CEO Dr. Darrell Massie.
Microgrids are localized grids that can be disconnected from traditional grids to operate autonomously, strengthening grid resilience. When the main grid is down, microgrids can continue to operate, offering an alternative power source until the main grid is recovered.
“IPERC sees this technology being adopted on a broader scale as the market begins to adopt a more distributed energy strategy and more frequent grid outages occur,” Massie said. “Hastening the adoption is the ongoing fear of a cyber attack on grid infrastructure.”
“With an aging infrastructure in the US, utilities, municipalities and sensitive organizations (e.g. hospitals, food storage, Federal Emergency Management Agency, drinking water facilities, etc.) are moving to implement strategies such as this over the next 2-5 years," Massie continued.
For nearly a decade, Homeland Security Today has reported that national security and energy experts have warned America’s power grid has grown increasingly vulnerable to natural and subversive action. With power outages 285 percent more likely to occur today than in 1984, it is critical that the nation ensure its electric power system is reliable, according to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
“Service interruptions of power delivery can adversely impact our national security, economy, manufacturing, public health, the environment, and have devastating socioeconomic impacts,” the JHU researchers said.
During a catastrophic event, from a severe storm to a terrorist attack, the GridMaster system will continue to operate and remain fully functional. Massie said, “Our autonomous operations provide real time monitoring, command and control over Grid-islanding which provides the ultimate in energy resiliency and security.”
The GridMaster system underwent rigorous testing by several DoD and multi-agency teams, including the Joint Vulnerability Assessment Branch of the Army Research Laboratory Unique Mission Cell, members of Pacific Command and Northern Command, and a Navy validation team, led by Lou DiFilippo, Information System Security Manager at Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Headquarters.
The PRA issued to IPERC grants formal Authorization to Operate (ATO) at Camp Smith, and constitutes a general Type Accreditation, which pre-approves the IPERC microgrid control system for use at all organizations and services within the DoD, and greatly streamlines the process for obtaining ATOs at future microgrid installations.
In addition, Type Accreditation of the GridMaster system uniquely positions IPERC to offer US Military installations an accredited cybersecure control solution for microgrids that can be installed and authorized for use faster and more cost-effectively than systems from any other designer or vendor in the industry.
GridMaster’s accreditation required compliance with DoD 8500-series and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 800-series cybersecurity, smart grid, and Risk Management Framework (RMF). The GridMaster also meets all NERC CIP v5 and ANSI/ISA 62443 standards.
As the cyber threat landscape continues to evolve, IPERC has a strategy in place to continue to adapt to the changing tactics of sophisticated hackers. Massie believes the state-of-the-art cybersecurity protocols utilized by the GridMaster will help prevent today’s attackers from compromising the system, and support continuous enhancements and upgrades.
“Part of our corporate strategy is to continuously enhance the systems we have deployed through ongoing penetration testing and continuous improvements, and maintain the internal skillsets needed, to ensure we are securing the grid for tomorrows attackers,” Massie said.