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Report discusses current state of industrial control systems security

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Friday, November 30, 2012

The smart grid control systems market, which includes such smart grid technologies as transmission upgrade software, substation automation and distribution automation applications, is growing, and has the potential to greatly increase system reliability all over the world.

According to a new study from Reportlinker, the cyber security measures developed to support these technologies have typically focused on the physical protection and ways to ensure security through isolation. This idea, however, is beginning to change, as a growing number base of operating styles are being developed that are driving up efficiency. This has led companies to rely more on IT-based devices that must be embedded within their control systems. These new intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) have introduced unprecedented new cyber security threats that control systems managers will need to deal with.

This has led the smart grid cyber security market to slowly emerge, despite its weak investment drivers. Much of the work that has been done has been due to a need for regulatory compliance, as opposed to introducing full system protection, which has left many threats and vulnerabilities unaccounted for. Still, the recent Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame malware attacks shook many utilities into looking into their cyber security options.

"Even if investment is not yet aggressive, requests for proposals and professional services engagements are up substantially over 2011," read an accompanying editorial to the report. "This portends a rising market for cyber security products and services throughout the rest of this decade. Meanwhile, the marketplace is consolidating as innovative startups are acquired by automation manufacturers and larger security vendors."

According to recent figures from Pike Research, revenue in the smart grid cyber security market will rise from $369 million in 2012 to $608 million 2020, at a compound annual growth rate of 6.4 percent.

The biggest drivers of cyber security installments have been federal requirements, most notably those developed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC), which created the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to analyze the needs of the industry and draft standards that will protect it from outside threats.

SUBNET helps utilities comply with the NERC CIP standards by ensuring all equipment installed on legacy devices meets these standards, saving power companies from potentially millions of dollars in fines that accompany NERC CIP violations. 

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The Complexities of Substation Cyber Security

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