Why Smart Grid Security is Important?

By CIOReview | Tuesday, June 4, 2019

FREMONT, CA – The smart grid is a critical national resource based on communication and information technology (IT). It leverages data and information to deliver energy by incorporating green technologies. As with most IT-based technologies, it is vulnerable to security challenges, especially from cybercriminals.

It is a critical asset which delivers the essential services required for seamless functioning of the government, businesses, and society. The smart grid aids the energy suppliers in procuring their revenue, and in the process, it provides the distribution system operator (DSO) with sensitive customer information. Hence, it is often targeted by cyberattackers looking to access the information.

Governments have equipped the poorly regulated, low-voltage grids with sophisticated smart grid equipment to reap the social and economic benefits. Even though it helps them in realizing their primary objectives, it leads to an increase in the number of entry points which can be exploited by cybercriminals.

A smart grid is vital for high-profile smart city ventures to enhance efficiency and optimization. However, it also creates a vulnerability that could compromise the security of the entire city. A sophisticated attack by a skilled hacker could topple its entire network infrastructure, leading to unprecedented losses and casualties. Consequently, smart cities become prime targets for large scale sponsored and terrorism motivated attacks.

The information and communication technology (ICT) industry is well aware that perimeter defense is not enough to stop the cybercriminals. Effective detection and response, coupled with network protection strategies, are required to form a comprehensive defense against the cyberattacks. However, the complex nature of smart grids makes it challenging to upgrade the defense perimeter to the latest standards.

The smart grid security management often miss the critical indicators in the sea of low-level background threat alerts and false positives. Hence, many security information and event management (SIEM) systems compare the vast volumes of isolated and false positive events with contextual information. It includes scheduled events, topological and geographical information, known threat information, and other historic cyberattack information.

To implement an effective defense strategy, SIEMs should be able to monitor the smart grids without compromising the services. It should also interpret the regular events of the smart grid and implement accurate standards to assess potential threats.