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Web Story Zurich Switzerland 28-10-2019

ABB’s Quantum-Safe encryption helps secure Oman’s power network

One of the first utility communication networks to be based on Quantum-Safe end-to-end encryption for cybersecurity

Today, even the most advanced cybersecurity solutions need to be updated on a regular basis to ensure the exceptional level of security necessary to protect vital infrastructure such as power grids. This is crucial in a world where developments in quantum computers (powerful computers that leverage principles of quantum physics) threaten to break existing asymmetric algorithms used to encrypt and secure communications in mission-critical infrastructure.

In the Sultanate of Oman, ABB is in the process of installing a high-reliability grid communications technology solution. This will protect the critical digital electrical infrastructure for the Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC).

OETC owns and operates Oman’s main electricity transmission network and sends power from generating stations to load centers throughout the country. The company monitors and controls its entire electricity transmission system, including 93 substations, through a load dispatch center (LDC) in its capital, Muscat.

Its new telecommunication system will connect to the existing utility communications network and provide services for a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, as well as other applications. SCADA is a computer-based system for gathering and analyzing real-time data to monitor and control equipment that deal with critical and time-sensitive materials or events.

Increasingly automated and interconnected power grid networks need specialized high-performance communication systems. The new communication system for OETC will be among the first in the world to feature a Quantum-Safe encryption card which provides best-in-class, end-to-end encryption for mission-critical utility networks.

“Networks of power utilities remain in place for many years. We therefore focus on building systems with high performance and longevity to ensure the necessary return on investment and optimal protection for the end-customers,” said Massimo Danieli, head of ABB’s Grid Automation business line within the company’s Power Grids business. “At ABB we continuously enhance security of our solutions to support our customer’s need for maintaining reliable and safe power grids.”

The need for Quantum-Safe encryption
ABB’s quantum-safe solution breaks new ground and uses a method that incorporates the physical properties of light to generate truly random encryption keys. This will ensure uncompromising real-time performance and Quantum-safe security. The secure key generation mechanism and implemented crypto-agility is termed “quantum-safe”. Crypto-agility facilitates system upgrades and evolution without having to make significant changes to the system’s infrastructure.

For this project, ABB will provide its utility-grade communication systems, the FOX615 multiplexer, which will be integrated into the existing ABB network all managed with FOXMAN-UN, the network management system for ABB utility communication equipment. ABB encryption technology supports real-time communication and response to very high volumes of rapidly changing data, and provides long-term, future-proof protection for a secure network that has both high reliability and availability.