IoT Security Blog

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A Vote for Securing the Social Network of Devices a Safer Smart Grid

Contributed by Joanne C. Kelleher

GE’s Ecomagination Challenge is a $200 million call to action for businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, and students to share their best ideas and come together to take on one of the world’s toughest challenges building the next-generation power grid to meet the needs of the 21st century. SecureRF has submitted an idea to this challenge titled Securing the Social Network of Devices a Safer Smart Grid.

The Smart Grid will form a social network of devices that will rival Facebook in size and need for privacy. Current security methods will not protect wireless platforms being proposed. SecureRF, developers of the world’s first linear-based asymmetric cryptography, will develop solutions to keep the Smart Grid secure and private.

One of the prizes is based on a public vote of the 50 word description, and although we aren’t going to spend the time soliciting the several hundred votes needed to get to the # 1 spot, we would like a reasonable showing. GE also has a panel of judges that look at a more in-depth application to award the other prizes. You can help.

Can you please register on the GE site and support our idea with your vote?

This Challenge is an interesting vehicle for identifying new technologies and partners although we are not sure how the judges will compare something like our submission – Securing the Grid – to entries like these:

  • Using lightening as an energy source
  • Pedal powered mini transit system
  • Chimney Generator
  • Tire Recycling Plant

Here are excerpts from our longer submission to the judges:

Cyber security is one of the key technical areas where the state of the art falls short of meeting the requirements of the Smart Grid. NIST: Smart Grid Cyber Security Strategy and Requirements Chapter 6.
In developing and deploying a Smart Grid, huge amounts of data will be generated. The utilities and power stations will create data, much of it in real time, as will the wireless meters and devices quickly invading homes and businesses. The Smart Grid, with introduction of wireless meters, and wireless appliances (many not even yet invented!) will add a layer of complexity that cannot be addressed by currently available security methods. Unfortunately, most of the commercially available security solutions are decades old, just like our current power grid.
Just the introduction of synchrophasors, which measure voltage, current, and the grids stability, will send critical data to central stations at the rate of 30 messages a second. This means any security method employed will need to perform in a matter of milliseconds so as to not interfere with this monitoring function.
Additionally, you do not want a hacker monitoring home activities, controlling household devices, or even denying or blocking access to the grid. Without stronger security, the grid will not only be an easy target for hackers, but they will even be able to use the Smart Grid to monitor their handy work in real time.
SecureRF proposes to develop Smart Grid security solutions using public key cryptography, based on our Algebraic Eraser (AE), the world’s first linear-based security method. The application of public key methods will be a significant security enhancement to the Smart Grid, including authentication and data protection in wireless meters and secure communications with household appliances and devices.
A PKI solution, based on the AE, will provide a low-power consumption system that delivers high speed implementations, for real-time processing, while maintaining a small computational footprint.


Thank you for your vote of support of our suggestion for a safer Smart Grid. Voting closes on September 30, 2010.