Newsletter

02 | 2006


VTT to improve information security of European electricity distribution networks

Safe distribution of electricity has been set as objective

Multifarious intentional and unintentional situations – ranging from short circuits and human errors to hackers and terrorists exploiting security vulnerabilities in control systems – can paralyse Large Critical Complex Infrastructures (LCCIs). VTT is playing a key role in an EU project aimed at protecting the critical infrastructure of our society. The project focuses on, e.g. preventing information security threats to the telecommunications systems of European electricity distribution networks. The project aims at improving the reliability, security and dependability of these systems.

The IRRIIS (Integrated Risk Reduction of Information-based Infrastructure Systems) project, part of the European Union Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), is aimed at deepening our understanding of information security threats to complex and critical infrastructures, particularly from the perspective of interdependencies. The recently launched project will run for three years and it has received seven million euros in funding from the EU. The project involves a consortium of fifteen corporate and research partners from different European countries and is co-ordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute from Germany.

VTT is playing an important role in the project, especially in assessing public and information security threats and risks to critical infrastructures (e.g. electricity networks), their control systems, as well as their interdependencies. The security threats often involve interdependencies where the realisation of one threat has a significant effect on the realisation of other threats. Fuller development of our understanding of interdependencies requires a comprehensive perspective. VTT’s information security researchers from different competence centres of the VTT Technical Research Centre work on many different applications and technologies. This information security expertise in different fields is synthesised into internationally unique, systematic and comprehensive understanding of critical infrastructures and their environment through effective research coordination. VTT’s key role in the IRRIIS project is based on this strongly interdisciplinary and aggregated perspective.

The electricity distribution and telecommunications infrastructures that have expanded rapidly over the past several decades are vital to today’s society and their collapse would have serious consequences. Telecommunications technologies play an increasingly pivotal role in the critical technological systems of our lives, which are more and more interconnected and mutually dependent. The fact that these systems operate across administrative and geographical boundaries, in addition to their complexity, presents a major security and maintenance challenge.

 


Additional information
  • Reijo Savola
  • VTT’s Network and Information Security Research Coordinator
  • +358 20 722 2138

VTT is an impartial expert organisation. Its objective is to develop new technologies, create new innovations and value added thus increasing customer's competencies. With its know how VTT produces research, development, testing and information services to public sector and companies as well as international organisations.