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Eaton’s Network-M3 Card Targets Power System Security

November 12, 2023 by Jake Hertz

With a variety of security provisions, the Network-M3 card will protect power systems that employ uninterruptible power supplies.

Power system security, including uninterruptible power supplies (UPSes), is paramount in maintaining the integrity and reliability of critical infrastructure. As the backbone of emergency power, UPSes ensure continuity for essential operations across various sectors, from healthcare to finance. However, the increasing sophistication of cyber threats poses significant challenges to these systems.


Network servers.

Network servers. Image used courtesy of Pexels


In response to these growing concerns, Eaton recently announced a solution they claim ensures a high level of security and reliability for UPSes and power distribution systems. So why are power systems more vulnerable than ever, and how is Eaton solving this challenge? 


Power System Security Concerns

One major reason why modern power systems are more vulnerable than ever before is because of the integration of UPSes within networked and connected environments. 

One example is the increase in sensing and data analytics to ensure power system health and safety. These connected systems may be intended to monitor and manage power systems, but they also inadvertently expose them to potential cyberattacks. As these systems become smarter and more connected, they become part of the expanding attack surface that cybercriminals can exploit.


Cybersecurity is becoming a growing concern in power systems

Cybersecurity is becoming a growing concern in power systems. Image used courtesy of Budd et al.


As part of this, the rise of the Internet of Things has led to a proliferation of devices connected to power systems, each representing a potential entry point for attackers. The security of these devices is often an afterthought, making them vulnerable to exploits that can compromise the entire power system. With billions of connected devices entering the marketplace in the coming years, the attack surface will grow exponentially.

Finally, the complexity of modern power systems, with their mix of legacy and new technologies, creates a challenging environment for ensuring consistent security measures. Older systems may not have been designed with cybersecurity in mind, and retrofitting them with modern protections can be technically challenging and cost-prohibitive.


Eaton’s Solution: The Network-M3 Card

Eaton's solution to the rising cybersecurity risks in power systems is their newly released Network-M3 card. 

The device is a network management card that is designed with a plethora of security provisions to provide IT professionals with improved management and security. Operating by establishing a secure communication gateway for power systems, the device ensures that only authenticated commands and updates pass through. The card also employs a secure boot process, a foundational security measure that validates the integrity of the firmware and software from the initial boot-up sequence. This prevents the execution of compromised code, which is a common vector for cyberattacks.


The Eaton Network-M3 Card.

The Eaton Network-M3 Card. Image used courtesy of Eaton


In addition to the secure boot, the Network-M3 card features a user-configurable firewall, which adds a robust layer of defense against unauthorized access, effectively creating a barrier between the power system's network and potential external threats. By scrutinizing incoming and outgoing network traffic, the firewall can block malicious activities and isolate the power system from the rest of the network if a threat is detected.

Furthermore, the Network-M3 card is equipped with other solutions, including chain-of-trust encryption, which creates a series of trust checkpoints that verify the authenticity of each link in the communication chain, and zero-touch provisioning, which ensures that all connected devices adhere to predefined security policies from the moment they are activated. This encryption 


A Safer Power Future

In an era where cyber threats are not only becoming more frequent and sophisticated, the security of power systems is a necessity. Eaton's Network-M3 card addresses this need by providing a comprehensive, certified, and user-friendly solution that enhances the cybersecurity of power management systems. By doing so, it protects not only the physical hardware but also the data and operations that depend on an uninterrupted power supply, safeguarding the continuity and resilience of essential services across various industries.