New cybersecurity tool suite demonstrated

August 30, 2012
The Sophia cyber security software tool can geo-locate conversation pathways in a large computer network. Credit: Idaho National Laboratory

A new suite of cybersecurity software tools is being demonstrated at Idaho National Lab this week. The tools will help the electric utility industry protect their control system networks from cyber attack.

The future of cybersecurity being shaped at Idaho National Laboratory is on display for energy industry stakeholders and U.S. officials this week.

The lab is demonstrating a suite of cybersecurity tools that provides situational awareness of networks and . Such awareness enables an energy utility to further safeguard its systems from .

"We're trying to help people better understand their computer networks so they can better protect them," said Robert Erbes, the INL cybersecurity researcher leading the demonstration.

In some ways, a utility's computer networks resemble the body's . They send critical information throughout the company, enable communication between diverse elements, and connect to supervisory data and control systems that help run the company's physical equipment.

INL has built an international reputation leading control systems cybersecurity advances.

DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability (DOE-OE) provides funding to help improve the cybersecurity of the nation's control systems. Two years ago, the office's Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems program funded a project at INL to develop a suite of tools to provide improved overall situation awareness of control and sensor network systems. A group of stakeholders along with DOE representatives is seeing the results during this week's demonstration.

The interoperative tool suite consists of applications ranging from concrete, implementable ideas to academic-based research demonstrations.

Among the tools being demonstrated is the Sophia situational awareness software. It passively observes network communications, providing both real-time and historical records of those communications. Sophia can also be configured to automatically detect unusual activity that may present a security concern. Like the other tools INL is demonstrating, it provides all of its information for human operators to evaluate.

"The INL research team is aiming to provide so the human can make the decision about how to respond or react," said Erbes.

The other tools that are part of the interoperability demonstration this week are Intelligent Cyber Sensor, Data Fusion and the Net Access Policy Tool (NetAPT), which was developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne. The INL project team also will be demonstrating five additional cybersecurity research projects.

Explore further: US using 'latest tools' for cybersecurity: Napolitano

Related Stories

White House set to unveil cyber plan

May 12, 2011

The White House on Thursday is expected to unveil its proposal to enhance the nation's cybersecurity, laying out plans to require industry to better protect systems that run critical infrastructure like the electrical grid, ...

US senators call for cybersecurity czar

April 1, 2009

Two US senators introduced legislation on Wednesday aimed at creating a powerful national cybersecurity advisor who would report directly to the president.

US moves to enhance cybersecurity cooperation

October 13, 2010

The Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security unveiled an agreement on Wednesday designed to boost cooperation in defending military and private computer networks from growing cyber threats.

Recommended for you

Making it easier to collaborate on code

October 26, 2016

Git is an open-source system with a polarizing reputation among programmers. It's a powerful tool to help developers track changes to code, but many view it as prohibitively difficult to use.

Dutch unveil giant vacuum to clean outside air

October 25, 2016

Dutch inventors Tuesday unveiled what they called the world's first giant outside air vacuum cleaner—a large purifying system intended to filter out toxic tiny particles from the atmosphere surrounding the machine.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.