Security Industry Worried About Smart Grid Cyber Attacks

Sue Marquette Poremba
Slide Show

The Cost of Cyber Crime

Cyber attacks continue to occur frequently and result in serious financial consequences for businesses and government institutions.

The energy grid seems to get attention two times a year: during extreme heat and during extreme cold. Or, times when the grid is overloaded and there are concerns of rolling blackouts.


However, as more utilities begin using a smart grid, there is another concern that overshadows too many air conditioners running on high. It's cyber security in the smart grid.


Earlier this week, nCircle announced the results of its 2011 Smart Grid Survey, which included 544 respondents in the IT security industry, including senior management, IT operations, security professionals, and risk and audit managers. The results found that 77 percent of participants said they were worried about cyber security in the smart grid. According to Tim Erlin, director of product management for nCircle:

It's not surprising that the majority of respondents is concerned. The smart grid initiative involves aggressive deployment of a network device -- in this case a smart meter -- to nearly every household in America. That's quite a target surface for a Stuxnet-type attack.

Also this week, the EnergyBiz Leadership Series held a webinar on "Strategies for Securing the Smart Grid." The webinar looked at the different challenges facing cyber security of the smart grid, like the costs of providing security in a time of tight budgets. An article about the webinar, posted to Intelligent Utility, pointed out:

[C]ybersecurity is not just a utility reliability issue, but a national security and law enforcement issue as well.

I spoke about cyber terrorism with some security people this past week, and every single security person referred to the Stuxnet attack on the Iranian nuclear plant. Obviously, it is a situation that weighs heavily across the industry.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 4, 2012 5:56 AM Allie Valenza Allie Valenza  says:

What can I say, too bad a homeland security training can't help stopping cyber crime. Cyber attack frequency is a reason to be concerned. The financial consequences of these actions are most of the times not to be ignored. I also wonder if someone will ever be able to put an end to cyber terrorism.


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