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Military pushes for tougher smart grid security standards

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Pentagon is adept at developing weapons technologies that can be deployed in increasingly innovative ways. According to a published report, that's what the military and its contractors hope to do as they set their sights - and future growth prospects - on the U.S. smart grid.

The U.S. military has been at the forefront of renewable energy technology, putting billions of dollars into the research and development of new technologies. The ongoing development of the smart grid presents the military with an opportunity to incorporate its renewable energy advancements more readily into the power supply network.

According to industry analysts, solar and wind power systems, which are becoming exceedingly popular as energy sources, present engineers with certain problems as their energy production tends to ebb and flow with the strength of their power sources. The military is hoping that the smart grid could help troops stationed abroad in combat, and it views smart grid security as of the utmost importance.

At military bases, officials plan to construct smart grid systems that would help administrators to better monitor electricity flow, ensuring that power disruptions are quickly identified and patched. Still, the smart grid presents a number of opportunities for hackers to breach the system, and the military - along with the Obama administration - is taking that threat very seriously.

In fact, critical infrastructure protection (CIP) protocols are currently being reviewed by senior military officials, according to insiders, and they hope to develop a new system of smart grid security measures that could be used both abroad and domestically to protect power supply networks.

According to a report from NDIA, the smart grid is being viewed as a way to integrate systems, much like the way defense contractors integrate a number of defense mechanisms to create a military weapon like a jet or a drone. The global microgrid industry - as the military has dubbed the smart grid deployment around the globe - hit $4 billion in 2010, with 75 percent of that financing coming from North America. By 2020, SBI Energy estimates that the military microgrid segment will surge 375 percent.

Like many other industries, because the military has such a vested interest in protecting its microgrids around the globe, it will likely fuel innovation in the sector. That could translate to a smart grid in the U.S. that is more readily able to ward off cyber security attacks from hackers throughout the world. 

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