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Cybersecurity to see increased investment on grid as threats grow

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Monday, July 22, 2013

A new report indicates that investment in protecting electrical grid infrastructure is set to increase as cybersecurity threats continue to grow.

The country's aging power grid has left it quite vulnerable to cybersecurity threats as little action has been taken to modernize the power network for the 21st century. The technology that is currently used leaves the infrastructure susceptible to attacks from hackers and foreign countries that could either steal electricity or completely dismantle power distribution for large portions of the country.

Other threats can come from natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy which cost an estimated $71 billion and left over 8.51 million homes without power, according to a story by Electric Light and Power. Without the proper smart grid technology to sense where there are disturbances in electricity flow and reroute it so as to minimize potential damages, the country stands to suffer from an increase in power outages.

The increase in cyberthreats
A report by Mandiant research explains that cybersecurity threats are advancing far quicker than most utilities' solutions. Almost two thirds of companies have not been able to detect their own security breaches while on average an attack takes eight months before being spotted. What is more concerning is the fact that once a company has been seen as a target, it is targeted again almost 40 percent of the time.

According to the report, the energy, oil and gas industry was the second most targeted by hackers as they become more adept at utilizing network infrastructures. As the energy grid continues to expand, so does the potential for a possible security breach.

Investment in cybersecurity
Utilities are beginning to realize the amount of damage the wrong security break could cause. As a result, investment in grid protection is expected to increase. According to a report by ABI Research, global cybersecurity spending is predicted to hit $46 billion in 2013, up $4.25 billion from 2012.

"The focus on cybersecurity is becoming imperative," said ABI. "The drivers for the market in related products and services are numerous, but in large part many will be propelled by national cybersecurity strategies and policies."

One way utilities can look to improve their security is through compliance with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) critical infrastructure protection (CIP) standards that ensure that the electric grid is well protected. SUBNET helps utilities meet these stringent requirements by utilizing their existing power network, corporate IT policy, and smart grid technology so as to protect their electrical infrastructure.

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