A holistic approach to smart-grid security.
Mark Cioni is an executive consultant with Enspiria Solutions, a Black & Veatch company. He also is a contributor to NIST’s Cyber Security Coordination Task Group.
The smart grid has gained solid traction in many respects, and it encompasses a broad and interrelated ecosystem of technology, processes, information and concerns. While the smart grid has the potential to enable many desirable outcomes articulated by government, industry and consumers, it also presents significant potential risks to our power generation, transmission and distribution systems in ways perhaps not even imagined just a few years ago.
A number of smart-grid security concerns have been expressed in recent mainstream discussions. Many laypeople and experts believe the smart grid might be widely vulnerable to cyber attacks. For example, hackers or insiders could cause massive blackouts or other disruptions. There’s also significant concern and media attention around the idea that utilities, hackers or other entities could use new smart meters and other methods to spy on consumers or control their homes without consent. Underlying these concerns is a relative lack of perceived experience and predictability regarding how the smart grid will react to intrusions and compromise, coupled with newly evolving standards for smart-grid security from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and other influencers. In light of the myriad security concerns, some experts even advocate that smart-grid deployment should slow down.