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Microsoft's SDL framework could create a more secure smart grid

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Energy system control and smart metering systems vendors could see huge benefits from Microsoft's Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) framework, which can ensure smart grid deployments are done securely, according to Government Computer News.

Vendors are increasingly using the system for the development of security management servers for electric networks, and for new smart meter system designs. Scott Charney, head of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing, spoke on the growing adoption of SDL on May 16 at the Security Development Conference in Washington.

At the event, former presidential adviser Richard Clarke also discussed the importance of securely managing systems that are a part of the nation's critical infrastructure, the news source stated.

The conference was held in an effort to heighten current IT software and hardware security levels as smart grid systems transfer from design phase to operation, where the systems will be used permanently. Microsoft first detailed the process for its SDL in 2004, which is now available for download. So far, components of the SDL package have been downloaded more than 940,000 times.

"We are now at the point where the industry can sustain a conference of practitioners focused on making software more secure," said Steve Lipner, partner director of program management in Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group.

The need for greater security in the nation's critical infrastructure comes as more utilities begin smart grid deployments. Transmission and distribution companies say they are turning to smart grid technologies to increase operating efficiency and improve the ways intermittent energy sources - such as wind and solar - are incorporated into the grid.

The effort has been strongly supported by funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which have helped development and deployment of smart grid systems.

Smart meters, which enable customers to better control their electricity usage through real-time monitoring of consumption, will see enormous benefits from Microsoft's SDL system. In recent trials, SDL recently reviewed more than 375,000 lines of code in one security management server, and identified 1,200 security issues, five of which were deemed "critical," and were able to be mitigated promptly.

SUBNET, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, constantly evolves its line of substation automation products to take full advantage of the latest computing technologies, ensuring compatibility with Microsoft standards. 

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