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Testing & Evaluation Services

Situated on 890 square miles of isolated, secure landscape, Idaho National Laboratory’s Critical Infrastructure Test Range provides a pristine location for the development, testing and validation of technologies, systems and policies that protect and increase the resiliency of the nation’s critical infrastructures and key resources.


The range allows organizations to analyze and test equipment on utility-scale infrastructure systems in a secure domain that is more realistic than computer simulations. Given the increasing interconnection and interdependencies of modern critical infrastructure networks, it is essential to understand their vulnerabilities so solutions can be rapidly tested, validated and implemented.


At the heart of our testing and evaluation services program is a series of infrastructure test beds – including a utility-scale power grid, communications test bed and pilot chemical facility –  complete with utility-scale equipment, secure landscape and access to leading experts in the field of infrastructure security, network analysis and vulnerability and risk assessments.


By examining real, functional infrastructure systems and networks for inherent vulnerabilities, INL researchers can develop engineered systems and tools that will ensure their survivability when they are challenged by age, natural disasters or terrorist acts.


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Infrastructure Test Beds


Power Grid Test Bed


INL’s power grid test bed allows customers to access a utility-scale 138kV transmission and distribution system that can be customized for multiple power grid configurations. This grid provides reliable power to INL facilities, but also functions as a testing resource for government and industry customers. For testing purposes, portions of the grid can be safely isolated for conducting scalable performance testing and equipment evaluation.


Our grid is constructed with industry-leading SCADA systems, relays and transformers, and operates under a full range of climatic conditions including desert and sub-zero temperatures, winds, snow and ice. Within the grid are multiple feeders, transformers and several independent substations.


Our power grid test bed includes advanced designs of conductors and towers. We have experience in modeling and system planning tools and monitoring technologies in frequency, voltage, VAR, phasors and line sag. We house miles of transmission lines and towers and provide customers with access to a robust group of SCADA, energy management and cybersecurity researchers with backgrounds in multiple operating systems, hardware, configurations and industry sectors. Engineering support for scalable performance testing, modeling and simulation and network topology configuration is also available.



SCADA/Control System


INL’s SCADA testing facilities consist of multiple control systems supplied by leading national and international manufacturers. Within our test bed, INL researchers systematically examine control system components including remote terminal units, programmable logic controllers and intelligent electronic devices and work to identify vulnerabilities in areas such as system coding, firewall configurations and network protocols.


Control system and cyber experts at INL have extensive experience in design, development, integration, systemization, testing and demonstration of multiple SCADA energy management systems and other process control devices. Today, approximately 80 percent of the nation’s emerging SCADA systems have been evaluated by researchers and engineers at INL.


Additionally, INL researchers provide in-depth analysis, training and tool development to industry partners and equipment manufacturers at conferences and user groups, and we review and provide insight into the development of control system standards. Since 2004, the laboratory has trained more than 7,000 utility executives and control system operators on enhancement of cybersecurity measures at their facilities.


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Communications Test Bed


The laboratory’s communications test bed includes the capabilities, expertise and equipment to re-create nearly any kind of telecommunication network. The laboratory’s low radio frequency background environment and authorization by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to operate as an experimental radio station provides a one-of-a-kind location for independent validation and verification.


Our test bed allows for large-scale, end-to-end testing of 3G/4G cellular, land mobile radios, wireless local area network and backhaul microwave, free space optics and satellite systems for both government and industry customers.


With our cell-tower infrastructure, low RF noise background and experienced telecommunications design staff and test engineers, customers using the communications test bed have access to research and testing capabilities across a number of TCP/IP, ATM, 802.11, GSM, and modem communication signals.

The test bed also includes 170 miles of fiber – OC-3, OC-12 fiber links over an SONET/ATM backbone, testing capabilities for two-way radio systems, cell phones and hard-wired systems. Additionally, the test bed includes testing capabilities for intranet systems, intrusion detection, firewall and secure communications.


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Control Systems and Cybersecurity Test Bed


The laboratory’s control systems and cybersecurity test bed provides the infrastructure and expertise to support multiple sector scalable assessment needs. Customers have access to multiple control systems test bed featuring highly flexible and configurable architecture that enables replication of multiple configurations of full-scale supervisory control and data acquisition systems and process control systems with standard serial or ethernet communications and industry-standard legacy and current technology remote terminal units, programmable logic controllers and intelligent electronic devices.


Assessment activities include performance evaluation of control system data communications across dial-up public switched telephone networks, direct serial leased line and different ethernet communications system configurations, including local, intranet and Internet topologies. Full-scale SCADA and distributed control system cyber vulnerability assessments are performed by teams of control systems engineering and cybersecurity engineers. Various tools are available to emulate network loading at different levels with configurable types of data traffic and granularity.


The test bed provides 10 segregated access-controlled bays for assessment programs. Each bay provides full connectivity to test bed communications, controller and emulation resources. A full-featured Citect human-machine interface computer system is available to provide a data source and protocol connectivity.


Controller units are configured to provide common input/output data interface to emulator units. This maximizes plug-and-play configurability of units in the test bed and minimizes the setup time required to configure the system communications and equipment architecture according to the applicable specific program test plan.


The test bed provides the capability for assessment of a variety of components associated with control systems of all types. Component assessment programs include remote terminal units, firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention technologies, cryptographic (bump-in-the-wire) technologies, open and proprietary communications protocols, switches, routers and other equipment associated with control systems and related communications.


Department of energy

DOE Office of Nuclear Energy
DOE-Idaho Office