This report summarizes the design and pilot demonstration of a framework called Grid Guard that was created to provide increased data and device trustworthiness to electric grid devices by leveraging distributed ledger technology (DLT), specifically blockchain. Grid Guard contains a combination of core cryptographic methods such as the secure hash algorithm (SHA), and asymmetric cryptography, private permissioned blockchain, baselining configuration data, consensus algorithm (Raft) and the Hyperledger Fabric (HLF) framework. The system implements a low energy, fast, and robust enhancement to system trustworthiness within and across electric grid systems such as substations, control centers and metering infrastructures.
Blockchain is a distributed database structured that provides a practically unalterable (immutable) timeline of stored transactions. By relying on hashing and the Raft consensus algorithm, if an entity tries to illegitimately alter a record at one instance of the database the other ledger nodes are not altered. They work to cross-reference each other and easily locate any incorrectly added data and remove it. The bulk raw data is stored in an off-chain storage (outside of the blockchain ledger) and a hash of this baseline data is stored in the Blockchain ledger via hashing windows of time-series and configuration data, after aggregation and filtering. The bulk off-chain data repository is then considered to be trust-anchored using the hashes stored in the blockchain.
To secure the electric grid testbed devices and data, device configuration baselines were compared to those baselines that had been previously stored in the ledger. Statistical baselines for device configurations, network communication patterns, and high-speed sensor data are calculated and then stored off-chain and hashes stored in the ledger. Measurements such as three-phase voltage and current, frequency, breaker status, protection scheme settings, network configuration settings (and other device configuration artifacts) and network traffic features (packet interarrival times) are compared every minute or other selected time windows.
During phase 1 of the Grid Guard DLT project different DLT technologies were studies, and an assessment was performed on DLT technology vulnerabilities, uses, and key characteristics. DLT consensus protocols were studies (e.g., RAFT, named after Reliable, Replicated, Redundant, And Fault-Tolerant). Also, cryptography, public, private and permissioned or permissionless systems were assessed. Grid Guard implements a permissioned private DLT. Consensus algorithm selection and choice of DLT implementation depended heavily on the use-case. For this use-case, parameters were selected to measure performance and existing tools for assessment. Benchmarking was performed theoretically and practically. During phase 2 hashed transactions/blocks were inserted into the ledger every second.
During phase 2 of the Grid Guard DLT project, a prototype framework was developed and demonstrated for attestation of critical substation devices and data using precision timing systems that use PTP and IRIG-B protocols) on a testbed of operational devices that emulated a distribution substation, control center, and power metering infrastructure using real Operational Technology (OT). The testbed includes OT devices such as protective relays, human machine interfaces (HMI), and power meters. To determine when to collect and compare system and network baselines, an initial examination of an anomaly detection capability to identify malicious manipulation of data streams was conducted. The resulting anomaly detection was demonstrated in a set of experiments and leveraged to trigger device artifact attestation checks. Attestation checks occur against device configuration baselines when compared with the immutable blockchain-stored baselines, which provided a cryptographically supported means by which to store baselines.
The electrical substation-grid testbed was created to test the Grid Guard framework. The testbed emulates the operations of a portion of a power grid and SCADA systems as closely as possible. The testbed integrates real protocols, mainly IEC 61850 standard protocols, such as the Sampled Value (SV) and the GOOSE protocols. The testbed also supports DNP3 and other layer 2 and layer 3 protocols such as Telnet, SSH, SFTP/FTP and other proprietary protocols needed to connect to industrial control system equipment. The testbed emulates real power conditions using the OpalRT hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) device which can create fault situations that cannot be easily tested on real systems.
The electrical substation-grid testbed was created using real measurement, communication, and protection devices that electrical utilities commonly use. The goal is to have the same conditions that could be observed in an operational power grid or electrical substation. The objective was to study the impact of faults and cyber-events at an electrical substation with inside (protective relays) and outside (power meters) substation devices as well as internally and between the control center and the substation equipment and between control center and metering equipment.
Ongoing activities for the continued development of the Grid Guard DLT attestation framework include the expansion and testing of the DLT platform to understand optimum throughput and performance of the application and implementation on an actual electric infrastructure facility, such as a substation. Other ongoing activities include expanding the framework to include real-world facilities such as an actual substation as opposed to the testbed and the Distributed Energy Communications and Control (DECC) laboratory facility located at the main campus of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).