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Applied Communication Sciences Gets Department of Energy Grant [Professional Services Close - Up]
[October 22, 2013]

Applied Communication Sciences Gets Department of Energy Grant [Professional Services Close - Up]

(Professional Services Close - Up Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Applied Communication Sciences (ACS) a grant to accelerate the development of advanced security monitoring capabilities in ACS's SecureSmart Monitoring Solution to help protect the nation's new Smart Meter infrastructure against cyber attack.

According to a release, the grant is part of $30 million in recently announced DOE awards to research, develop and demonstrate new tools and technologies to bolster the defense of the nation's energy delivery systems.

ACS noted that the ACS SecureSmart project leaps ahead of current industry initiatives and focuses on the detection component of the "defend, detect, and respond" security doctrine. The primary objective of this research is to accelerate commercial availability of intrusion detection capabilities and security analytics to independently monitor and detect anomalous and malicious activity in wireless communications for Advanced Metering Infrastructures (AMIs) and Distribution Automation (DA) networks. AMI and DA Field Area Networks (FANs) are the largest, and some of the most complex, networks now operated by US utilities.

"Utilities are in a race against time to secure their Smart Grid networks against cyber adversaries," notes Stan Pietrowicz, ACS Smart Grid Program Manager and the project team's leader. "The 'grace period' during which adversaries re-tool and become familiar with Smart Meter technology is rapidly closing. Our defenses will be tested, ready or not. Detection and situational awareness will be key to ensuring a secure Smart Grid." The DOE grant will advance first-of-a-kind technology developed by ACS, which is currently deployed by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). ACS will conduct formal research of actual security risks in wireless FAN communications by intercepting and analyzing live field traffic using its sensor technology. Through a practical and results-oriented approach, ACS will develop advanced intrusion detection analytics to extend the security monitoring and analysis capabilities of ACS's SecureSmart Managed Security Services infrastructure and demonstrate the value and benefits in a utility partner's operational environment.

To improve utilities' situational awareness and visibility into AMI and DA FANs, ACS said it plans to distill network performance information and visualize network operation from packet flows. ACS will model FAN traffic to define normal operating baselines and develop indicators for FAN health. Key results expected from this research include:-Wireless FAN Security Weaknesses and Detection Analytics -FAN Traffic Modeling, FAN Health Indicators, and FAN Operational Baselines -Efficacy of Mobile FAN Probes ACS added its research program is expected to begin in late October 2013 and will continue for approximately 20 months, culminating with a field trial of the enhanced SecureSmart Monitoring Solution. This is the second DOE cyber security grant that ACS has been awarded. The prior grant was made in 2010 and focused on researching tools and methods to harden communication security of energy delivery systems.

Applied Communication Sciences is a company focused on research, consulting and engineering.

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