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Top telecom CEO discusses smart grid cybersecurity

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Ernie Hayden, Managing Principal for Verizon's Industrial Controls Systems Cybersecurity, recently sat down with market researcher Zpryme to answer questions about how safe data traveling through the smart grid really is.

Topics included smart grid vulnerabilities that have arisen in recent years, and the immediate security problems posed by data security breaches, Smart Meters reports.

According to the news source, Hayden detailed several concerns that utilities and smart grid vendors should keep in mind in the coming years.

"First, does the loss of data violate any state data breach laws that require notification to the affected customers? Secondly, does the data include smart meter data that could violate the State of California data breach ruling for smart meters? Thirdly, could this data breach be viewed as a privacy violation or problem?" he asked.

Hayden added that utilities will also need to consider how much cybersecurity could affect its stock price and reputation, as well as understanding the full nature of each attack. This includes whether it was delivered to the system internally, was the product of a hack and human error. Once this is determined, utilities can take the necessary steps to prevent such a breach from occurring again.

The Verizon executive also mentioned how the smart grid is growing to encompass an increasing number of functions.

"You may see the smart grid concept moving to water utilities, gas utilities, oil and gas companies. All would need to be concerned with security of their systems and data since they are all considered critical infrastructure," he said. "Other entities who would be concerned about security of their smart grid systems are those operating microgrids such as jails, military bases, industrial parks, large facilities, campuses, and universities."

While Hayden gave many warnings, he also said cybersecurity policies are indeed improving and finding their place in North America. These include the National Institute for Standards and Technology's NISTIR 7628 and other standards that can be enforced and prompt companies to kick-start their smart grid cybersecurity programs.

Other standards include those written by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, such as NERC CIP guidelines. SUBNET's products help utilities meet these stringent rules, which if broken, can lead to fines of up to $1 million per day until the offense is taken care of. 

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