T&D World Magazine

IEEE Revising Critical IEEE 1815 Standard

IEEE has begun on revisions to Secure Authentication protocols contained in its IEEE 1815 Distributed Network Protocol (DNP3) standard. The SA Version 5 revisions will help bolster overall security for data information gathering, exchange, and use in applications like supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. With the rising frequency and intensity of malicious cyber attacks, SA Version 5 aims to address and help mitigate digital security hazards to essential infrastructures across the power and energy, water, smart grid, and other process automation industries.

"As the rate of bolder, more sophisticated cyber attacks continues to spiral upward, ensuring data integrity and security has become increasingly challenging. By necessity, preventing unauthorized intrusion into critical systems has become a top priority," said H. Lee Smith, chair, IEEE 1815 Working Group and president, DNP Users Group. "By delivering robust security protocols that are attuned to both existing and emerging threats, SA Version 5 will help minimize risk while ensuring the continued efficient and safe operation of vital infrastructures."

The IEEE 1815 DNP3 standard is a robust, multi-layered framework for achieving greater device interoperability. Developed collaboratively by IEEE and the DNP Users Group, it has become one of the most widely adopted standards in the process automation industry. The standard has also emerged as a fundamental element in a growing number of global Smart Grid deployments by facilitating seamless interaction and secure two-way communications between diverse systems and devices.

The SA Version 5 revisions, which are being jointly developed by IEEE and the DNP Users Group, will strengthen and enhance the standard's ability to unambiguously determine whether access to data and internal systems has been authorized. Formal IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) balloting for these revisions is expected to begin in January, with the revised protocols being rolled into IEEE 1815 for publication in 2012. SA Version 5 will have a staggered rollout, beginning with the DNP community in November 2011, followed by IEEE users in January 2012, and will be fully incorporated into the published version of IEEE 1815 in 2012. It will be available to the general public from the DNP Users Group members via the group's website.

"Disruptive innovations like the Smart Grid hold vast potential for significantly improving the quality of life for millions of people around the world. Preserving and advancing these nascent technologies requires the adoption of proactive strategies to solve security challenges at their inception, rather than after the fact," said Judy Gorman, managing director, IEEE-SA. "The Secure Authentication Version 5 revisions provide a firm foundation for the ongoing task of securing mission-critical data systems, and clearly illustrate IEEE's unique consensus-building and leadership abilities."

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