Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

ECI brings cyber security to smart grids

Steve Rogerson
March 3, 2016
 
Israel-based ECI has introduced a cyber security system for smart grids, designed to bolster the safety and reliability of utility infrastructures and help in the fight against increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks.
 
The utility tailored Lightsec is an integral part of Elastigrid, ECI's complete system for utilities and strategic industries, which also includes various packet-optical transport systems, a user-friendly network management system and various SDN applications (Lightapps).
 
ECI says its experience in the utilities sector affords it a clear understanding of the cyber security threats faced by the industry. Lightsec was developed to be comprehensive, flexible and centralised. This ensures that utilities cope with security challenges yet retain the ability to add security functions to protect against newly developed threats.
 
"Attacks against utilities are becoming a strategic risk for countries and their populations," said Yaron Bielous, vice president at ECI. “Just a few weeks ago, a cyber attack against the Ukraine caused a major power outage leaving manufacturing plants, businesses and homes without power for many hours. Cyber attacks are becoming more diverse, intelligent and frequent. Lightsec is meant to identify, analyse and neutralise such threats, while concurrently ensuring that it is business as usual for the rest of the utility's system and its customers.”
 
The system is comprised of three major pillars – a cyber security suite, Lightsec-V threat management platform and Mercury NFV.
 
The cyber security suite is a set of security functions developed in line with the needs of utilities. It includes encryption, scada DPI, scada anomaly detection and big data cyber analytics. The suite incorporates optimised Check Point network security functions and makes available a next-generation firewall, intrusion prevention system, ICS and scada.
 
The Lightsec-V threat management platform features an aggregated view of calculated threats from the entire cyber security suite. It also provides adaptive risk grading that correlates multiple security functions, such that the utility CSO can allocate its security experts more effectively according to the likely severity of the alert.
 
The Mercury NFV is flexible and based on a commercial off-the-shelf platform, which can be deployed as a plug-in blade (in ECI's Neptune product line) or as a stand-alone appliance. This enables dynamic service function chaining to optimise risk classification and adjust the chain of security functions required to neutralise any given threat.
 
Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, said in a recent video post about ECI: "It is very exciting the fact that you have taken a business down approach to developing cyber security rather than just focusing on the technologies and the acronyms. You have given them the business case they need to move forward with virtualisation."