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Protective Relay Permissive Communications (PRPC)

Stage: Prototype

Protective relays are an essential component of providing and maintaining normal operations to any electrical grid. These systems are frequently connected to communication networks for support of business processes and functions directly related to the protective relay. The communications capability of the devices introduces a cyberattack vector from any connected assailant, and a compromised protective relay facilitates potential profound damage and lingering consequences for any electric grid relay function. The goal of this technology is to develop a solution where the capabilities of the protective relay equipment (e.g., business process and functions) can transition to a constrained state where these capabilities are limited to a smaller set of business processes or functions, ultimately reducing the attack space. 



The function of this device is to constrain communications between two electronic devices via the physical communication media between the electronic devices (i.e., communication cable). Constrained describes a reduced functioning state of the communication channel on the physical media. The device could be place between communication interfaces of an electronic device(s) connected via the communication media and provide constrained communications when needed. Communications are constrained via any session control logic or at any OSI layer, including the physical layer. This device has embedded systems to constrain the target communication link and communicate to other systems. 

Development Status: TRL 2. This technology is in the concept stage and is in need of further testing and development.  

Applications and Industries

• Security of the physical layer of communications.

• Critical Infrastructure owners and operators: Electric utilities

• Other organizations that maintain operational networks.


Benefits

• Cybersecurity improvements via a reduction in attack surface for protective relays within electric utilities

• Cybersecurity improvements via a reduction in attack surface for other operational devices and systems.