Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

N-Dimension demonstrates cyber-security technology at Burlington Hydro

Steve Rogerson
November 3, 2015
Canadian company N-Dimension has demonstrated how its cyber-security technology can protect smart grids at electric utility Burlington Hydro with funding from the Ontario Smart Grid Project. The aim is for this to provide the foundation for the launch of a cyber-security monitoring service.
The managed security service provider completed the cyber-security project, which was sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Energy. The project focused on the development, evaluation and commercialisation of cyber-security technology integration into distributed smart-grid field applications.
The goals were to improve the reliability of power delivery and ensure the integrity of utility and power customer data in Ontario. For validation, a demonstration of the cyber-security technology was integrated into Burlington Hydro’s smart meter network.
“Distributed security for our intelligent field devices makes sense, protecting both utility operations as well as customers,” said Dan Lowry, CIO at Burlington Hydro. “N-Dimension’s continuous threat detection and monitoring technology proved to be an effective component in developing a defence-in-depth security strategy."
Bob Chiarelli, minister of energy for Ontario, added: “The province of Ontario continues to be a recognised pioneer in smart-grid technology deployments. We are pleased with the results of this project – they validate an important cyber-security technology at the distribution level and contribute to reducing risk for utilities and their customers.”
N-Dimension has commercialised the technology developed as part of the Ontario Smart Grid Fund project with its N-Sentinel Monitoring, a continuous threat monitoring service released earlier this year. N-Sentinel intelligently analyses and reduces threat alert data, eliminating the time consuming process for IT to analyse hundreds or thousands of log files. By quickly pinpointing the threat and source, IT can take timely action to remediate problems.
The company leveraged its background in security penetration testing and assessment services and its utility operations experience to create cyber-security threat monitoring and protection technology. In addition to identifying threats continuously and generating alerts, N-Dimension aggregates the data and intelligently classifies them and identifies the threat source and systems affected. By logically reducing the large amounts of data, the time consuming process for IT to analyse hundreds or thousands of log files is eliminated.
A requirement of the project included a demonstration of the cyber-security technology integrated into a participating utility’s operational smart meter network. To meet this requirement, N-Dimension integrated the continuous threat monitoring technology into Elster Solutions’ EnergyAxis gatekeeper, complementing Elster’s existing security. The Elster gatekeepers serve as WAN access points for the Elster power meters 900MHz local area mesh network.
By distributing cyber-security monitoring close to the edge of the network, threats are detected before they can spread to other parts of the utility network and systems. The N-Dimension security-enabled gatekeepers were deployed at Burlington Hydro, a power distribution service company serving approximately 66,700 residential and commercials customers in the city of Burlington.
“The Ontario Smart Grid Fund helped to accelerate our cyber-security technology research and development efforts,” said Tom Ayers, CEO of N-Dimension. “It was a huge advantage to be able to work with Burlington Hydro to validate the technology and gain their feedback and insights as part of this effort.”
The Ontario Smart Grid Fund, launched in 2011 by the Ontario Ministry of Energy, supports the growth and advancement of the province’s electricity grid. By investing in Ontario-based projects, its goal is to bring the benefits of a smart grid to homes and businesses while providing economic development opportunities and creating jobs.