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  • European Commission
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  • Critical Infrastructure Protection topic 1: Critical Infrastructure “smart grid” protection and resilience under “smart meters” threats

Specific Challenge:

Critical Infrastructure functions are technologically and operationally interconnected, of which their exact possibilities and potential risks need to be better understood. For example: in the case of energy distribution networks, especially “smart grids”,  the massive proliferation of "Smart Meters" as mandated by the Third energy Package introduces new threats. The same is applicable to all utility supply networks (e.g. water or gas system supply). The systems and meters of the charge points for electrical cars should be also a concern, specially considering the increasing market for this type of vehicles


The objective is to analyse potential new threats generated by the massive introduction of “smart meters” on the distribution grid system and propose concrete solutions in order to mitigate the risks, guarantee the electromagnetic compatibility, improve resilience and reduce vulnerability of critical infrastructure “smart grid”, due for example to cyber-attacks, or to the locally diffused interconnectivity with renewable utility grids, and the existence of widely spread entry points that could locally influence the utility grid and its functioning.etc.

The new technologies, processes, methods and dedicated capabilities shall be developed, which shall also take into account the urban areas implications (i.e. the general public subscribing to this service). The proposal shall provide concrete solutions for securing public and private critical networked infrastructures and services against the above mentioned threats.

A key characteristic of the Smart Grid is that it consists of millions of devices, spread across organizations and households in a vast geographical area. In case of a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) usage, a utility company would face an extreme credential management overhead and logistic costs of maintenance. This means that new security management schemes must be designed and evaluated for the Smart Grid to meet its high scalability requirements.

Security solutions must take into account that an adversary has a physical access to smart meters. These devices’ cost, power, memory, and computational limitations restrict the ability to deploy standard trusted platform modules on them. Due to the fact that smart meters will be deployed for many years, novel cryptographic solutions should be tested that include message encryption, authentication and integrity, along with the highest possible levels of efficiency in time-critical and high volume data

It is expected that consortia under this research topic will select the most representative sample of “smart meters” used in Europe’s smart grid as starting point of the research and analyse their potential weakness/threats.

Moreover the proposal shall study and provide solutions in order mitigate the impact of “smart meters” on the current critical infrastructure security and resilience to new threats.

It should take into consideration the work completed to date by the the Smart Grid Task Force Working Group 2, concerning the cyber security assessment framework and the related Best Available Techniques there defined.

Finally the research should be carried out in the context of policy initiatives at EU level on the Smart Meters and Smart Grids, such as the 2011 CEN/CENELEC/ETSI Mandate 490 on smart grids (including the security and data privacy issues on the roll-out of smart metering systems), and the 2009 CEN/CENELEC/ETSI Mandate 441 on smart meters, as well as the guidance on software in smart meters, provided by WELMEC.

Proposals addressing this topic may involve the use of classified background information (EU or national) or the production of security sensitive results. As such, certain project deliverables may require security classification. The final decision on the classification of projects is subject to the security evaluation.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between €2m and €5m would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately appropriately (similar to the FP7 Capability Projects described in the general introduction). Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

- higher protection levels of utility distribution grid infrastructures;

- more effective and systematic approach to resilience enhancements of smart grid critical infrastructures when new components are added;

- improved applicability through small scale proof of concept of system to demonstrate the “resilience” of the proposed “system”;

- increased understanding of technology providers on modern operational requirements thus increasing their competitiveness.

Type of action: Research & Innovation Actions

The action is expected to proactively target the needs and requirements of public bodies and industry.

The outcome of the proposal is expected to lead to development up to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4; please see part G of the General Annexes.

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