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Majority of smart grid investments will appear in utility control systems

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Tuesday, October 18, 2011

One year after the Stuxnet virus was discovered, analysts are still working to uncover information on the bug, but it has had a major impact on the smart grid security market nonetheless.

The virus caught the attention of utilities, which have realized that with the implementation of the smart grid, systems are no longer isolated and are much more vulnerable to attack from hackers. A new report from Pike Research states that utilities' efforts to create a secure infrastructure likely will be the driving force behind investing in smart grid cybersecurity systems, which are forecast to total $14 billion in the period between 2011 and 2018.

"Smart grids need intelligence or they are not smart," says senior analyst Bob Lockhart. "Adding that intelligence to grids will increase their attack surface and utilities know this. But the industry is still playing catch-up to the threats facing power grids: the greatest needs lie in securing control system segments including transmission upgrades, substation automation, and distribution automation."

In the past year, several key market drivers have gained importance, including the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which now issues fines for non-compliance with its critical infrastructure reliability standards. Research shows that utilities are expecting to see more benefits from integrating distribution automation than advanced metering infrastructure, and greater spending will occur in that area.

Lockhart states that although many positive changes have been made to the smart grid security market, cyber security is still "way behind hackers." If strong countermeasures are not consistently deployed, sophisticated hackers can systematically study smart grids and cause significant damage in a short amount of time.

Pike's report details the threats that the smart grid faces and the vulnerabilities it has been shown to have, arriving at an analysis of the most important cybersecurity advancements. It addresses dozens of important questions that would greatly benefit smart grid security vendors, hardware and software vendors, utilities and several other groups involved with smart grid deployment.

The report focuses on smart grid technologies that are likely to improve smart grid security and several additional factors.

SUBNET Solutions Inc. is well positioned to succeed in the smart grid world, as it offers substation automation, an area Lockhart says will be one of the most important aspects of the smart grid, and remote access, all backed by cybersecurity that ensures safe connectivity. 

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The Complexities of Substation Cyber Security

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