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Smart grid needs smarter security

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, November 02, 2011

As more utilities across the country become aware of the great advantages that come with smart grid implementation, the need for heightened and equally intelligent security must be utilized by those hoping to benefit from the new technologies.

In California, San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) has begun its endeavor into smart grid deployment, marking the first major changes to the region's electric grid in almost 100 years. The new developments to the grid promise greater efficiency in utilities' operations, making the decision to turn over existing infrastructure an easy choice, according to the San Diego Business Journal.

But with the development of the new grid, which is heavily dependent on wireless sensors and substation automation driven by computer-based systems, rather than traditional power lines, cybersecurity has arisen as a prominent issue, says Jessie Knight, chairman and CEO of SDG&E. In his keynote address at the Cybersecurity Symposium on October 25, Knight highlighted the importance of cybersecurity.

"While we are all well aware of the many benefits our dependence on technology brings, it also makes us more vulnerable to cyber threats," he stated.

Knight spoke on the possible threats to an automated grid, which include hackers and computer viruses that could interrupt and delay the supply and distribution of power and data breaches of new intelligent appliances that communicate wirelessly with the grid, according to the media outlet.

"Much of this is hypothetical, as the smart grid is still in its infancy, but we must start planning and building the grid securely so our customers will be sure to have the reliable power they need," he said at the event.

At another cybersecurity conference on October 27, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stated that a cybersecurity breach of critical infrastructure, which includes the electric grid, should be the nation's number one worry, according to Government Technology.

SUBNET Solutions Inc. has the expertise to ensure new remote access and substation automation technologies applied to the smart grid are conducted in a completely secure manner. The solutions provider can help utilities meet the stringent standards established by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation's critical infrastructure protection requirements.

SDG&E plans to spend about 3.5 billion on its smart grid, including security measures, in the next 10 years.  

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