EIPGRID has been developing the various of protocols and functions for develop optimal communication between electricity participants such as utilities, load aggregators, distributed energy devices

Cybersecurity Solution for VPP

EIPGRID has integrated the world most secure Cyber Security Technology for protecting networks and edge devices, powered by BlackRidge Technology. BlackRidge solutions have been validated by the US Government, Department of Defense (DoD) and utility related agencies, it provides a state-of-the-art security layer for EIPGRID’s clients

  • DoD Information Network Approved Products List (DoDIN APL)
    • Interoperability and cybersecurity certification by DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency
    • Approval to purchase and operate BlackRidge products within DoD’s networks
  • NIST FIPS 140-2 validation for the cryptography in BlackRidge products
    • Certification that BlackRidge products meet security standards for protecting sensitive information at US Government Service Providers and related organizations
  • NIST NCCoE (National Security Center of Excellence) Securing the Industrial IoT: Cybersecurity for Distributed Energy Resources (DER)
    • BlackRidge is cooperation with NIST NCCoE and its Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) project is providing a reference security architecture for the utility industry
  • DoD NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab)
    • BlackRidge products have been deployed in the NREL cybersecurity lab as part of a 9-layer cybersecurity architecture for utilities

Cybersecurity for Distributed Energy Resources

The conceptional architecture of an industrial facility microgrid, a utility managed DER, and their tie-in to a distribution control system (distribution grid) is depicted below. The VPP solution addresses requirement for analysis and visualization, authentication and access control, behavioral monitoring, a command register, data integrity and malware detection. BlackRidge security components can be integrated in conjunction with existing or commercially available components to provide optimal network protection.

<Source: Based on NCCoE - IIoT Conceptional DER Architecture>


Use of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) such as wind and solar photovoltaics is growing rapidly and is transforming the traditional power grid

  • Distribution networks are changing from a single-source radial network to a multi-source grid of numerous devices and systems
  • Proper management of devices and associated power flows is heavily dependent on digital communication and control across public communication networks
  • DER integration driven by Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices, data flow, and information management poses a widening attack surface and growing cybersecurity challenge for the energy sector

To improve the overall cybersecurity of IIoT devices in a DER environment by:

  • Ensuring authenticity of all information exchanges between distribution control systems and DERs
  • Providing malware prevention, detection, and mitigation in DER operating environments
  • Providing trusted identification of DER devices and distribution control systems

This architecture introduces information exchanges between the utility’s distribution control system and the DERs to manage the flow of energy flow in the distribution grid. Some of the challenges include:

  • Information exchanges often utilizes IoT/IIoT devices in traditional utility systems without having any capability for communications security
  • The operating characteristics of DERs are dynamic and significantly different from those of legacy systems
  • Swift management of DER capabilities requires a higher degree of automation (management/control systems) which in return increases cybersecurity risks
  • Managing the automation, the increased need for information exchanges, and the cybersecurity associated with these, presents significant challenges for the utility industry

Business benefits of the solution explored include:

  • Enhancing reliability and stability of the grid by better protecting DERs from a cyber attack
  • Assuring that distribution operators retain control of DERs independent of a cyber event
  • Providing an immutable record of commanded actions and responses across all DERs
  • Ensuring integrity of energy transactions by monitoring and protecting IoT/IIoT digital communications with demand response programs

Attack Scenarios

The solution presents increased attack services such as:

Increased Access to a DEA Operator’s Infrastructure

  • Access via the Internet
  • Install malware
  • Ensure persistent access

Increase Access to the DER monitoring and control

  • Use access to observe interaction between distribution operator and DER infrastructure
  • Experiment with spoofed information from DER to distribution operator

Increase Access to the Control DER Infrastructure

  • Control DER operations via spoofed commands

Department of Energy NREL Cybersecurity Architecture for Utilities

A Layered Solution for Cybersecurity tested and used at DoE’s Security & Resilience National Renewable Energy Lab
Distributed Grid Management lab for cybersecurity and resilience requirements of the grid

  • The testbed emulated and demonstrated a real-world grid / Industrial IoT environment
  • BlackRidge provides in-line blocking and isolation to protect the Enterprise Information System and Advanced Substation Platforms

<Source: NREL layered Solution for Cybersecurity>

Cybersecurity Architecture for VPP

To protect critical servers and management systems on Virtual Power Grid, EIPGRID offers a fully integrated security solution to protect end points such as Energy Participants, Energy Aggregators and Virtual Power Plants meaning the entire communication network is protected by BlackRidge as depicted below.

<Source: BlackRidge - Conceptual Architecture (Virtual power grid protecting model)>

  • Protect Critical Servers and Management Systems
    • Protect high value servers and data (PII, algorithms, research, IP, ….)
    • Protect Management Plane of IT networks and systems
  • Isolate and Protect Cloud Services
    • Control access to IaaS cloud servers by all parties
    • All access attempts logged for audit history with attribution
  • Micro-segmentation / Software-Based Segmentation/Compliance
    • Infrastructure independent and supports heterogenous environments
    • Separates security policy from network topology
  • Identity Based Networking
    • Identity Based Policy and Network Access

VPP Communication Architecture – Generic View

End-2-End protection by BlackRidge

VPP Communication Architecture – Sample View

End-2-End protection by BlackRidge

Addressing VPP Cyber-attack Vulnerabilities

  • Adversaries potentially leveraging a VPP to control large quantities of grid connected generators
    • BlackRidge addresses solutions which cannot be realized through traditional solution including dynamically adjusted policies & trust levels
    • From the operations perspective BlackRidge solution can be rapidly deployed with no downtime
  • Adversaries cause the VPP ignore or spoof supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) communications
    • BlackRidge identity-based access control in combination with network level micro-segmentation allows to separate management / control plane
  • Adversaries manipulate bids on energy exchanges
    • BlackRidge is agnostic to any application running on top of a protected network
  • Unpatched Systems/Legacy Systems
    • BlackRidge Zero Trust architecture allows to interface with compliance and policy engines to ensure unpatched systems are either marked as not trusted resource or prevent access to critical systems.
    • For Legacy systems BlackRidge IoT gateways will insert identity at the edge device allowing controlled access for specific devices such as surveillance cameras. From a more generic perspective deployment as a front-end to any legacy systems will enhance security for any IoT device
  • Operational Technology (OT) linkages
    • Traditional IoT devices do not have a source of identity. BlackRidge IoT gateways will insert identities at the device level to manage controlled access and enforce policies
  • Security of dispatch systems or control systems
    • No network engineering/re-configuration, complete cloaking of critical infrastructure
  • Distributed architecture, too many access points to critical information and databases
    • Blackridge provided gateways to segment network and various components and lock down access using assured identity for every interaction
    • Its AI driven Zero Trust approach will manage identities and policies across the entire connected domains including service separation and isolation to eliminate cross contamination
  • Compromised/unauthorized DERs, disruption of power
    • Complete lockdown of unauthorized devices, real-time monitoring and tracking
  • Third Party Access
    • Blackridge gateways can be placed at critical point to ensure 3rd party access is controlled by identity and identity-based networking to assure that there is no lateral movement or visibility to any unauthorized parts of the communications network
  • Denial of Service
    • BlackRidge gateways can be placed at strategic points to cloak devices or elements to prevent Denial of Service attacks