In Part 1 of "Substation Security with Strategic Zones of Protection," we introduced the idea that an Ethernet-based Zones of Security strategy can offer a security umbrella for your substation.  But, Ethernet also provides the flexibility and rich supporting protocols and applications that enable a utility to create the powerful Zones of Protection for both physical and cyber assets. Ethernet offers several other critical advantages for substations:


With current IEDs supporting Ethernet technologies, 100MB is a typical bandwidth, and is several orders of magnitude faster than serial ports. Speeds of 1GB and 10GB are on the horizon.

Simultaneous access

Ethernet allows multiple users to access the same IED at the same time. As an example, a user can access an IED for viewing and changing of settings or uploading historical data at the same time SCADA is polling the IED for real-time data.

Multiple protocols

Ethernet allows multiple protocols to run on the same network at the same time. This makes it possible for the user (described above) to use vendor-supplied software and protocols at the same time SCADA is accessing the same IED with a different protocol.

A hybrid Ethernet/serial substation architecture is the most common architecture for a substation today Hybrid architectures allow utilities to take advantage of serial equipment in place, simplify communication and increase bandwidth among various parts of the utility, and take advantage of the security capabilities of Ethernet that reduce risk.

A hybrid or full Ethernet architecture requires multiple levels of protection. They include protection against unauthorized users (authentication); protection against authorized network users accessing devices or control for which they are not authorized (authorization), and protection against snooping and hacking.

Introducing a number of simple security elements into a power utility substation and distribution network will significantly reduce the risk of physical or cyber attacks. 

To learn more these security elements and how to implement them, you can now download the white paper: Securing the Substation with Strategic Zones of Protection.