The European Network for Cyber Security (ENCS) has launched a new training course that it claims will give security architects “the knowledge to design secure smart grid systems”.

ENCS managing director Anjos Nijk said that “as the smart grid grows in scope and sophistication, we see increasing integration between IT and OT. Following the 2016 and 2017 blackouts in Ukraine, we also see a growing need to withstand advanced, dedicated cyberattacks on energy infrastructure.”

He said grid operators are addressing this need “by hiring security professionals to design a secure architecture that crosses both IT and OT. With this training, we hope to improve the skills of these professionals.”

The programme runs over three days and includes modules on risk-based-architecture design and the IT/OT interface design as well as practical use cases such as substation design and smart metering.

Nijk added that one of the challenges of designing an effective smart grid risk architecture “is getting the balance right. There are many measures from the IT world that are applicable to OT systems: networks segregation, VPNs, jump-servers and so on. But using too many measures will cause high investment costs and may make the system hard to use. Too few though, and the system is vulnerable. Assessing that balance requires thorough understanding of the systems and risks involved.”

The training course is based on practical cases to give students directly applicable knowledge for their role. In groups of three or four, participants are given an OT security challenge and tasked with designing a solution.

The architecture security training expands ENCS’s role-based training programme for grid operators. Last November, ENCS launched its security operations training aimed at SOC and CSIRT analysts for OT. Earlier this year, it developed tailored management awareness sessions. And next year, ENCS plans to expand the programme with a secure configuration training for engineers and crisis response exercises.

Watch my interview with Anjos Nijk at last week’s European Utility Week.