Cyber Security Specialist Wurldtech Unveils Smart Grid Initiatives

The multi-faceted effort includes a Memorandum of Understanding with The University of British Columbia to create a Cyber Security Research Institute for energy infrastructure protection.

Tyler Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Wurldtech Security Technologies.
Tyler Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Wurldtech Security Technologies.

Wurldtech Security Technologies (, a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based provider of industrial cyber security testing and certification solutions for critical infrastructure industries, announced on July 9 a strategic initiative designed to help improve the security of the Smart Grid.

The effort includes the addition of wireless communication capabilities into Wurldtech’s Achilles Satellite security and robustness testing platform to diagnose and remediate vulnerabilities in Smart Grid technology; the expansion of the Achilles cyber security certification program to include resilience benchmarks for Smart Grid devices and applications; and the creation of the world’s first cyber security research institute and global center of excellence for energy infrastructure protection with particular short-term focus on Smart Grid issues.

Emerging necessity

“The Smart Grid is critical to our sustainable energy future,” said Wurldtech Chief Executive Officer Tyler Williams, “but the bulk power industry has had little necessity for cyber security in the past because critical control networks were isolated from the litany of IT (information technology) threats that could jeopardize process integrity and reliability. The advantages of Smart Grid however, require increased connectivity, including a reliance on the Internet, and if we don’t move quickly to make functional security an integral part of the Smart Grid initiatives, we may find ourselves in the unfavorable position of attempting to fix the car while driving at full speed.”

Wurldtech’s Achilles Satellite is a stand-alone platform designed to allow equipment manufacturers to conduct standardized cyber security and robustness testing to identify vulnerabilities in IP-enabled computers systems before being deployed in critical infrastructure networks.

By adding additional capabilities to the Achilles platform, enabling security testing over common Smart Grid protocols such as the International Electrotechnical Commission’s IEC 61850/870, and the new wireless protocols based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ IEEE 802.11 and 802.15.4 (WirelessHart, Zigbee, and ISA100.11a from the International Society of Automation), suppliers of Smart Grid devices and applications can benefit from the same advantages previously reserved for the traditional supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and control system vendors, according to Wurldtech. The company said it hopes to announce the first Achilles Certified Smart Meter in August.

“There is no reason why any device, system or software application that is found on a critical control network should be deployed without going through rigorous security and robustness testing with technologies like Achilles,” said Greg Garcia, former assistant secretary for Cyber Security from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and current president of Garcia Strategies LLC, a Washington D.C., consulting firm. “Having the required subject matter expertise, the proven technology to identify and diagnose vulnerabilities, and the infrastructure to categorize threats and proactively distribute effective mitigations, Wurldtech’s solutions will provide the functional security core that the Smart Grid initiatives need.”

World’s first

Williams said, however, that still more is needed. “These initiatives alone will not provide the layers of functional security necessary to protect the Smart Grid from intrusion and/or accidental disruption. We have been working tirelessly over the past eight months with numerous energy industry end-users on an exciting new initiative and are extremely pleased to announce today the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Wurldtech and The University of British Columbia (UBC) that provides the framework to create the world’s first Cyber Security Research Institute and Global Center of Excellence for energy infrastructure protection aimed at promoting global standards and functional cyber security consciousness in the energy sector.”

Funded directly by leading energy companies, government agencies and other industry stakeholders, the Center of Excellence will consist of three components:
•    A Cyber Security Testing and Certification Test Bed and Demonstration Center. A multi-million dollar test bed designed to replicate high-availability control networks and advanced metering infrastructure is currently being constructed to support the ongoing analysis of Smart Grid and control system infrastructure, for security, safety and interoperability issues.
•    An International Applied Cyber Security Research and Assessment Team. A centrally managed, but distributed, multi-disciplinary team of cyber security subject matter experts, private sector and academic researchers has been formed to conduct both applied research and consulting services based on roadmap requirements directly from end-users.
•    A Web-based Knowledge Portal. This information coordination center will provide symmetric information without restriction to qualified users. This portal will act as the conduit for workplace cyber security training and education as well as online certification and training courses covering the emerging functional security issues in the critical infrastructure industries and the Smart Grid.

“Wurldtech is responsible for yet another game-changer,” said Ted Angevaare, global manager of process control security and architecture, at Shell Global Solutions, which has been working with Wurldtech on cyber security initiatives. “A focused private-sector effort with activities directed by end-users and managed by an organization with clearly demonstrated industry stewardship, subject matter expertise, and an understanding of the issues and fundamental needs of the industry—this is a recipe for success. Shell is proud to be amongst the many supporters of this effort and we look forward to contributing our expertise to the combined knowledge base so that the entire community can benefit.”

Wurldtech Security Technologies

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