Converged Networks for SCADA (CONES)
Grid Protection Alliance
The CONES project explored many aspects of network convergence as they apply to power grid cyber networks. Many currently deployed cyber-communications systems in the electric sector consist of multiple communication networks and devices to carry out communications. That is an expensive and inefficient approach, but trying to achieve convergence simply by replacing those channels with a single high-bandwidth connection would also create problems. Those problems include the inability to segregate channels, guarantee timings, and enforce network entry limitations. CONES addressed those problems using as much off-the-shelf hardware and software as possible, augmenting them with specialized components when necessary. This project was successful in identifying and solving several of the problems in this space, and actively transferred the knowledge gained to various industry partners. Results included an approach for soft-real-time process and network scheduling in the Linux kernel, giving devices the ability to report even under duress. A realistic profile of traffic in electric sector communications networks was identified, along with a number of security concerns for electric sector communications, particularly if they are converged. Many software tools were created for use with the wider TCIPG research mission. CONES also provided the foundational base of research exploration that lead to the successful development of the Secure Information Gateway (SIEGate) that is now deployed in production utility environments.