Smart grid security a top priority

Movement toward the smart grid continues to evolve with North American utilities, but security issues continue to keep executives up at night.

09/08/2011


More than 75% of the respondents surveyed said security investments are of the highest importance. At the same time, 38% of the respondents said security is one of their top IT initiatives this year.

In 2011, utilities are spending their budgets updating security appliances and software, especially focusing on client security (antivirus, anti spam, anti-malware) and intrusion prevention, according to the results.

Although security initiatives in the smart grid continue to move ahead, these efforts may not be sufficient. While large investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and public cooperative utilities are spending money and setting up best practices to streamline security, they only embody 20% of the utilities in the United States. To enable industry-wide momentum, chief information officers (CIO) and chief information security officers (CISO) will need to carefully evaluate the architecture to ensure end-to-end infrastructure safety and protection, given all the unknowns in the smart grid arena.

Key findings in the report include:

  • More than 60% of respondents plan investments in new security solutions or maintaining or upgrading their existing solutions. Planned investment in security software is particularly high: 58% of respondents stated that investment in security software will comprise 25-49% of their budget.
  • A majority of utility CIOs recognize that data protection will be a key issue. Some utilities are already collecting large amounts of data via their pilot programs, and they are starting to realize that to win customers’ confidence, they have to employ protection schemes.
  • Utility CIOs express concern about the lack of security standards for home area networks (HANs), which will push security vulnerabilities upstream, requiring the utility to perform ongoing vulnerability testing in multiple areas.

“There’s great momentum in the industry toward ensuring security is addressed in smart grid projects; however, these efforts are led by 50% of the large utility companies,” said Usman Sindhu, senior research analyst, IDC Energy Insights. “While investments are picking up, utility companies are still behind on developing a security-aware culture. CIOs and CISOs will play a key role; they should be ready to work with operations and engineering groups to ensure security and risk practices are implemented.”

- Edited by Chris Vavra, Plant Engineering, www.plantengineering.com 



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Intelligent, efficient PLC programming: Cost-saving programming languages are available now; Automation system upgrades; Help from the cloud; Improving flow control; System integration tips
Smarter machines require smarter systems; Fixing PID, part 3; Process safety; Hardware and software integration; Legalities: Integrated lean project delivery
Choosing controllers: PLCs, PACs, IPCs, DCS? What's best for your application?; Wireless trends; Design, integration; Manufacturing Day; Product Exclusive
PLCs, robots, and the quest for a single controller; how OEE is key to automation solutions.
This article collection contains several articles on improving the use of PID.
Learn how Industry 4.0 adds supply chain efficiency, optimizes pricing, improves quality, and more.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again

(copy 5)