Provider cuts smart meter vulnerabilities in half

Powered by SC Magazine
 

Avoids patch cost blow-outs.

US-based utility Itron has reduced the number of security vulnerabilities in its products, including smart metres, by 50 percent by deploying an in-house build of Microsoft’s Security Development Lifecycle (SDL).

The company introduced Microsoft’s SDL – designed to increase software security assurance – in 2008 to monitor for potential security threats during the early design build phases of its utility products, and slash security remediation costs.

Lead security engineer Ido Dubrawsky said the strategy cut the number of vulnerabilities by a least half between 2008 and 2010.

“Utilities are conservative and are very concerned about vulnerabilities because they don’t just affect one device, but up to two million,” Dubrawsky said.

“It’s very expensive for a bug fix to be rolled out then; not just monetary, but there’s a hit to reputation.”

He said vulnerabilities were particularly expensive to fix and cost up to 75 percent more when made at the end of a product lifecycle.

The cost of fixes was exacerbated because the devices were expected to last for more than 20 years, Dubrawsky said.

"You can eliminate a vulnerability as much as possible, but even if you nailed everything you can think of, someone will think of some new attack," he said.

"You need to make sure whatever they do will have limited impact so [smart metres] don't roll over so easily."

Vulnerabilities, previously only labelled as ‘bugs’, were flagged by security teams and sent to coders for remediation.

Smart metres were considered to exist in “hostile environments” because customers had physical access to the devices. They were outfitted with tamper protection mechanisms and encryption to protect data.

Firmware vulnerability patches were delivered by utility operators over private wireless networks.

Darren Pauli travelled to Redmond as a guest of Microsoft. 

Copyright © SC Magazine, Australia


Provider cuts smart meter vulnerabilities in half
 
 
 
Top Stories
NICTA no more as CSIRO takes over
Data61 split out under executive.
 
Inside the stalemate on Australia's piracy code
Still not registered almost five months on.
 
IT staff outline deep anger in Macquarie Uni survey
‘Morale at lowest point in a decade’.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...
Latest articles on BIT Latest Articles from BIT
Say goodbye to OneDrive Groups
Aug 28, 2015
If you've a) actually been using OneDrive and b) gone so far as to actually have been using ...
Libreoffice 5 review
Aug 24, 2015
It's free! It's open! But does LibreOffice deliver on its promise of a powerful office suite for ...
How to disable Cortana in Windows 10
Aug 21, 2015
Stop Microsoft's personal assistant snooping around.
Uni is optional: 5 tech leaders without a degree
Aug 17, 2015
Already running a business, but thinking about going back to uni? From Bill Gates to Steve Jobs, ...
New features coming to Xero
Aug 17, 2015
Use Xero? Here are some of the things you can look forward to in the coming months.
Latest Comments
Polls
New Windows 10 users, are you upgrading from...




   |   View results
Windows 8
  46%
 
Windows 7
  44%
 
Windows XP
  5%
 
Another operating system
  3%
 
Windows Vista
  2%
TOTAL VOTES: 726

Vote