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Maine utility serves as a leader with advanced smart grid cyber security system

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Thursday, August 25, 2011

The U.S. electric grid is divided into different regions, each monitored by an Independent Service Operator (ISO). In Maine, one utility recently moved to implement enhanced smart grid cyber security measures as it looks to protect its customers from foreign hackers and other cyber criminals.

According to a report from Computer World, Portland General Electric (PGE), which operates under the jurisdiction of the New England ISO, has worked to overhaul its own cyber defense network.

"Utilities have a much smaller threshold for risk than they used to," PGE cyber security director Travis Anderson affirms. "The industry is realizing, with the changes over the last decade, that they are going to be held to a higher standard for security events, or threats to the company. There are more attack vectors today, most possible inputs into critical systems."

PGE has worked to exceed government guidelines, and was one of the first utilities in Maine to utilize a variety of cyber defenses like vulnerability and log management systems to protect its power supply network.

What's more, the utility recently moved to install smart meters in thousands of its customers' homes, requiring additional safeguards to ensure personal data is not stolen.

"We took a hard look at our security practice and our governance around information and system protection," Anderson added. "And we developed a number of process and technology initiatives to better mature our program."

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