McAfee, Intel team on ‘reference implementation’ to secure power grid

The reference implementation emulates the components and functionality commonly found in a critical infrastructure environment. The added capability of end-point security, network security, and security management products can deliver a secure environment with increased reliability, McAfee said in a release.

The complexity and diversity of the electrical power delivery systems make protecting them from cyberattacks challenging. The energy sector infrastructure is comprised of a diverse set of networks that cannot be effectively secured by adding technologies designed for typical enterprise IT environments, explained McAfee.

Many of the power grids’ aging assets predate the internet revolution and are particularly vulnerable from attack and unable to identify or report malicious activity up the network chain. Substations, one of the most vulnerable parts of the smart grid, are particularly at risk from attack. Meanwhile, hackers have grown more sophisticated, increasing the need to defuse or deter zero-day and more sophisticated attacks.

"To adequately secure critical systems against cyber attacks, the right products and technologies must be integrated into the entire infrastructure—from the enterprise, to the SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] and control systems, and even to the automated device networks—without impacting reliability or interfering with operations", said Eric Knapp, critical infrastructure expert at McAfee.

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