University of Bayreuth, Press Release No 017 - 09 February 2022
IT security newly conceived: Half-time in the “SiZero” research project
Researchers at the University of Bayreuth are working with partners from industry and the Wunsiedel municipal utility on new methods for securing IT in critical infrastructure. At the halfway point of the "SiZero" project, a prototype has now been presented that shows how the control of decentralised energy systems can be secured. In addition, a concept for monitoring and controlling mobile heat supply systems, e.g. mobile heating containers, has been developed.
Transport and traffic, food, and the supply of water and energy constitute so-called "critical infrastructure", which means they are indispensable for the functioning of society. Here, a disruption of IT systems - for example through unauthorised access from outside - can become a great danger. Adequate protection is therefore imperative. What form such protection could take is being developed by a consortium with the participation of the University of Bayreuth as part of the "SiZero" project. The aim is to research, develop, prototype, and evaluate a new type of access concept for applications and devices in critical infrastructure. The core of the solution is the so-called zero trust concept. This is an innovative approach in IT security that is intended to enable protected access to applications and data. The consortium is made up of the companies mobitherm, qbound GmbH, VK energie GmbH, SWW Wunsiedel GmbH, and the University of Bayreuth.
The "SiZero" research project has been running for 17 months (total duration: 34 months), in which time it has achieved numerous milestones. In addition to collecting the requirements of the participating partners for potential systems and creating a system architecture based on the zero-trust concept, a prototype has been implemented. The data is currently being evaluated, however, the prototype has already demonstrated how secure control of decentralised energy systems can be successfully integrated. In addition, a concept for monitoring and controlling mobile heat supply systems has been developed. Finally, the needs of the operators and customers of an energy park have been more accurately defined thanks to the monitoring of numerous energy system data from a distance. Last but not least, the operational safety and efficiency of the combined heat and power (CHP) plant has also benefited from this.
The aim of SiZero is also to enable secure remote access to the control of the biomass cogeneration plant in the energy park of Stadtwerke Wunsiedel GmbH. This energy park is a flagship for the region’s transition to renewable energy. For example, the waste heat generated by the CHP plant is used to produce wood pellets instead of releasing the heat into the environment from huge cooling towers. A zero-trust architecture will also be used here as a security solution.
The remaining project time will be used for the development and improvement of further prototypes, the evaluation of the zero-trust solution, and for the scientific review