More and more vendors are including hardware security measures in smart grid field devices, such as smart meters, data concentrators, remote terminal units (RTUs), and intelligent electronic devices (IEDs). Some are encrypting the external flash modules on smart meters. Some are using hardware security modules on data concentrators to encrypt key databases. And others are implementing secure boot through specialized chips on IEDs. Implementing such measures on field devices is critical, as they are easily exposed to physical attacks.

But on a closer look, some of the measures seem inadequate to control the corresponding risks. Protecting keys stored on smart meters is not that important if unique keys are used per meter. Key databases on data concentrators can be decrypted or used if an attacker gains access to a running data concentrator. This member project investigates what type of hardware security measures would be needed to mitigate the real risks of physical attacks on smart grid field equipment.

This project has the following goals:

  1. Determine the risks of physical attacks on smart grid field components
  2. Analyze which risks may be mitigated by hardware security measures
  3. Create security requirements for these hardware security measures
  4. Evaluate current equipment against these requirements
  5. Create the capability to efficiently test future equipment