Securing the smart grid
Saturday, April 10th, 2010

“The smart grid is by definition going to be less secure than the existing grid,” said Andy Bochman, founder of theSmart Grid Security Blog. “That’s what happens when you greatly interconnect something that previously used isolation as one of its primary security strategies. It’s going to be less secure and more people from more diverse backgrounds will be able to reach parts of it … even if we do a great job of securing it with rock solid security technologies and policies.”

But the picture isn’t all that bleak, he said.

“The positive side is it’s the smarts in the smart grid that can detect problems early and respond much more rapidly than the mechanical, human systems can today,” Bochman said. “That will help us work around those isolated security incidents and ultimately make the grid more reliable and efficient than it is today.”

Part of the problem is that there needs to be a shift in the mindset of typically slow-moving utilities, said Brian Monkman, technology programs manager at ICSA Labs, a testing and certification firm.

The utilities are used to designing and implementing technology that has a projected lifespan of 30 to 40 years, which is eons in Internet time, he said.

“We have power meters within the country that were installed at a house 60 to 70 years ago and it’s still running,” Monkman said. “The biggest fear is that the lessons learned over the course of the last 10 to 15 years on the Internet will not be carried over to the smart grid.”

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Securing the smart grid
Saturday, April 10th, 2010
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