AR-402-2020: Security requirements for hardware security measures (draft)

This document includes a set of requirements that grid operators can use for tendering field devices.

Increasingly 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 logical, as they are easily exposed to physical attacks.

But on closer look some of the measures seem to not mitigate the real security 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. Unfortunately, it is unclear if the design and implementation of these hardware measures have been evaluated for their efficacy.

To acquire devices with effective security measures, grid operators should include more specific requirements on hardware security in their procurement documents. This document provides a catalog of security requirements from which they can choose based on a risk assessment.

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  • January 13, 2020 Last Updated
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