Cyber Secure Microgrid | IPERC
IPERC Microgrid Intelligent Power Controller

Protecting Critical Infrastructure

Security and Resiliency are the buzzwords in microgrid discussions, and for good reason. No segment of modern civilization functions without reliable power, so nowhere is the threat of disruption from cyberattacks more severe. This fact is not lost on attackers of every stripe, from lone-wolf hackers to nation-states, as evidenced by the energy sector's ranking as the leading target for cyberattacks on industrial control systems (ICS) in the U.S.

Microgrids are resilient, reliable countermeasures to this threat, and provide alternative power to critical systems and facilities. Should cyber attacks disrupt the bulk grid, it is imperative that critical backup power systems do not share the same vulnerabilities, and are protected.

So how are microgrids best protected? A common approach is to simply layer standard cybersecurity measures on top of existing control systems, but this strategy has consistently failed. Applying ad-hoc security solutions built for other applications to control systems that were never designed to be secure can have a devastating impact on operations. Making matters worse, these security retrofits are often implemented as expensive third-party products and services, adding yet another stakeholder and more complexity to the microgrid. From a pragmatic threat-mitigation perspective, thinking about cybersecurity solely in terms of an impenetrable perimeter is grossly insufficient in today's environment. Firewalls and intrusion detection are routinely defeated, so defenses must run much deeper.

The GridMaster® Difference For microgrid ICS, it is critical to protect the controllers to keep the system reliable. The GridMaster® is the only microgrid control system specifically developed and tested from the ground up to provide superior operational control while staying at the leading edge of cybersecurity. Having no single master controller as a single point of failure, IPERC's distributed architecture is inherently more secure than centralized systems. The collection of distributed controllers are able to reconfigure and continue operating should any single controller be compromised. This design also extends encrypted communications to the edge of the network and collapses vulnerable pathways between control system and controlled devices.

GridMaster's Defense-in-Depth strategy, shown right, has been successfully validated and accredited through years of stringent military security and information assurance processes. This validation resulted from being competitively selected by the Department of Defense as its controls solution for all three phases of the SPIDERS Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, HI; Fort Carson, CO; and Camp Smith, HI. GridMaster® underwent a successful Testing & Evaluation (T&E) process by a Fully Qualified Navy Validator, which led to formal Approval to Operate (ATO) in 2015. The system was also subjected to penetration testing, DHS assessment and code reviews. The GridMaster® is the only microgrid control system with ATO for mission-critical defense installations.

Taken together, these numerous features combine to deliver unsurpassed security and resiliency for microgrids. The IPERC GridMaster® represents the state of the art of distributed-energy cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity Business Case

IPERC's GridMaster® makes microgrid cybersecurity cost-effective and practical. A control system with built-in cybersecurity is a wise choice for both avoiding the initial and ongoing cost of third-party cybersecurity solutions, as well as providing a cybersecurity overlay for legacy power technologies.

Advantages for return on investment include:

  • Best available protection and maximum operational uptime
  • Built-in, tested security negates need for security installation/testing-related outages
  • Simple and quick system restore and patch management
  • Quarantine of affected components; microgrid reforms and continues to function
  • Accreditation may be leveraged to show compliance with energy security standards and assessments, including:

    • DoD 8500-series for Cybersecurity and Risk Management
    • NIST 800-series for federal government security policies, procedures and guidelines
    • ICS-specific guidance, such as CNSSI 1253 and NIST 800-82
    • Guidelines for Smart Grid Cybersecurity, such as NISTIR 7628
    • Commercial guidelines, such as ANSI/ISA 62443 and NERC CIP v5
    • DHS Cyber Security Evaluation Tool (CSET)

Let's Discuss Your Unique Solution

Please contact us at for more information about the cybersecure GridMaster® microgrid control system, and how it can be tailored to secure and control your critical energy assets.