February 17, 2023

Ayesa advances cutting-edge systems to protect electrical power and energy systems (EPES) against cyberattacks

Ayesa, a leading global provider of technology and engineering services, is a pioneering force in developing cutting-edge systems to safeguard critical infrastructure across Europe. With a vast array of services and extensive expertise in utilities, Ayesa stands out as one of the foremost technology consulting firms in the field.

Ayesa has recently developed a state-of-the-art cybersecurity platform designed specifically for electrical power and energy systems. This innovative solution enables smart and secure operations within these critical infrastructures.

In particular, Ayesa’s GridPilot technology incorporates a comprehensive system for managing vulnerabilities across various components of the power grid. This technology plays a vital role, especially in industrial environments where outdated equipment with diverse operating systems and software is prevalent.

GridPilot is an advanced cloud platform that revolutionizes the management of energy assets in a smart and efficient manner. It facilitates the integration of energy from diverse sources, including batteries and solar panels installed in residential, commercial, and industrial establishments. The platform utilizes artificial intelligence to seamlessly handle energy consumption, electricity sales to the grid, and storage management. This innovative solution empowers users to optimize their energy usage while harnessing the potential of renewable energy sources.

‘These newly introduced features provide an additional layer of protection to mitigate potential issues, especially in cases where systems are susceptible to cyberattacks’, notes Alfredo González, Innovation Programme Manager at Ayesa.

A significant innovation created by Ayesa is the automatic generation of alternative data routes in response to identified cyberattacks. This feature, known as isolating and re-routing, effectively isolates the affected nodes of the grid, ensuring the continuity of operations and minimizing the impact of the attack. Ayesa developed this system as part of the H2020 innovation project SDN microSENSE, which focuses on enhancing the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure. This advancement plays a pivotal role in bolstering the security measures and resilience of critical infrastructure systems.

Commencing in May 2019 and concluding in October 2022, the project secured a funding of 10.1 million euros through the EU’s Horizon 2020 (H2020) programme. Over 30 companies, universities, and organizations actively participated, successfully completing six pilot initiatives in Seville, Norway, Greece, Sweden, and Bulgaria.

Dedicated teams of engineers, computer scientists, and researchers collaborated to develop robust security systems capable of safeguarding industrial operating environments (OT) against cyber threats. These environments are typically vulnerable to hackers who infiltrate data networks and management software, aiming to disrupt operations or trigger power outages and voltage fluctuations, which can inconvenience millions of people.

As part of the pilot projects, Ayesa conducted a specific evaluation of the security measures implemented in a rooftop photovoltaic system at their headquarters in Seville. The system is equipped with sensors that enable efficient detection of cyberattacks. Leveraging SDN (Software-Defined Networking) technology, the system redirects detected attacks to a honeypot—a strategically designed sacrificial computer system that attracts and deceives cybercriminals. This innovative approach significantly enhances the overall protection of the system, serving as a decoy to divert and mitigate potential cyber threats.

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