Secure energy supply

Process IT in the Age of Cyber Security

The importance of information technology in the process area of energy supply has increased dramatically in the last few years. Important developments in energy supply such as the separation of network operations and energy operations (unbundling) were only made possible by means of modern information and communication technology (ICT).

Horizontal and vertical network segmentation
Horizontal and vertical network segmentation

To assure that potential intruders cannot move freely through a “compromised” network, PSIcontrol networks are divided into appropriately sized network islands (perimeters). The network segmentation is achieved by the use of firewalls. All the network connections that extend beyond confines of the site (WAN connections) are produced as VPN tunnel connections with encrypted data transmission and TCP/IP protocol.

In the age of cyber security, remote accesses are considered to be especially critical elements of system architectures due to the fact that as a rule they are connected with public networks and therefore accessible for attackers. PSIcontrol is equipped with a secure and time-tested remote access concept.

The installation, compile and patch (ICP) server is an essential component for the fulfillment of the BDEW whitepaper requirements. All source and object codes as well as the system parameters are stored on this server.

With an ICP server any number of repeatable system generations can be performed. The completed, generated systems are stored in a version-administrated repository so that the possibility for a rollback to a previous system version is available. The entire configuration and supply management is handled through these repositories.

Extension package for increased IT security

The solution PSIsecure provides a broad range of technologies for successfully resisting the attacks of the future that are becoming increasingly more sophisticated. Because the current attack scenarios are very complex in their design, conventional virus scanners neither detect all the known malware such as viruses, worms or Trojan horses nor the unknown, so-called zero-day exploits. This risk can be completely excluded with the application whitelisting, because, in contrast to the virus scanner, a list with trustworthy code is defined in the whitelist. Prior to starting any program, the content origin and integrity are checked and compared with the whitelist. Only recognized programs can be loaded and executed.

Centralized security events and next generation firewalls

The security information and event management (SIEM) is a central platform for the collection, detection, processing and reporting of security events. The SIEM integrated in PSIsecure consists of functions such as central data collection, correlation and alarming, reporting, archiving and compliance testing.

Firewalls regulate data traffic. This simple regulatory mechanism has been significantly extended by means of a next generation firewall in PSIsecure. Next generation firewalls completely analyze the data traffic. As a result, for instance, rules are possible at the application level and even at the user level. With IPS/IDS functions data content is checked against signatures as well as against known viruses, Trojan horses and worms.

In particular, the energy transition is based on a massive use of ICT and cannot be implemented without it. The resulting increased dependency of their availability is reason enough to properly protect the controlling and telecommunication systems required to operate the energy supply networks. In Germany and other European countries, the BDEW white paper currently serves as the primary guideline for security requirements for control systems. PSI control systems completely fulfill the requirements of the BDEW whitepaper. The functionalities bundled and provided for PSIcontrol in an IT security basic package are integrated into the systems delivered in accordance with the customer requirements. Furthermore, PSI has designed and implemented the IT security expansion package PSIsecure.

IT security basis package

PSI control systems are delivered only as tempered systems. That means that specifically generated minimal basic systems provide precisely the services required by the application software systems installed on the computer. All the system components are patchable.

PSIcontrol has been consistently implemented as a so-called “minimal need to know” principle so that without a successful authentication, no system operation is possible with the exception of the login. The authentication is made using a password and card reader. It is assured that a login is also possible if the main domain name server is not accessible. Users can be issued precisely the rights that are required to fulfill their tasks.

Wolfgang Dreger
Phone: +49 6021 366-885

Thomas Geulig
Phone: +49 721 94249-45

Extension package for increased IT security: PSIsecure

Control system PSIcontrol

Article from

Magazine for energy suppliers