Smart Grid Security: should we be worried?

Ann Whyte, Director of Corporate Communications at DS2, explains that suppliers who are planning to install electricity smart meters in every home by 2020 need to adopt new powerline communications technology that is being developed to ensure that Smart Grid’s two-way communication remains safe from the threat of attack.

This is because as the Smart Grid continues to expand, so too does its vulnerability to cyber attacks. One of the key elements to the future Smart Grid will be communication networks that allow utilities to communicate with Smart Meters and other energy-using devices. This two-way flow of electricity and real-time energy pricing information will detail energy used by each device and other advanced applications, allowing consumers to save energy and reduce their carbon footprint.

This will enable utilities to combat fraud, introduce effective real-time management of the grid and slow down their investment in new energy generation capabilities. However, any vulnerability in the Smart Grid could have an impact on utility's energy distribution grid, which could result in power cuts, and could be used by hackers and fraudsters to gain access to consumers’ private personal information.

So, alongside high-speed communications and robust features, what the Smart Grid also requires is Cyber Security – the protection required to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the electronic information communication system.

What does the expansion of the Smart Grid mean in terms of security?

  • Stringent management and protection of components within these infrastructures must be addressed
  • It increases the complexity of the grid which could expose it to potential attackers and unintentional errors
  • It increases the number of entry points that can be exploited
  • It Increases the potential for compromise of data confidentiality; including the breach of customer privacy
DS2 is leading the market in the development of powerline communications for Smart Grid applications and is tackling this security threat by developing state-of-the-art security standards. Its next generation Smart Grid technology has been specifically designed to prevent attacks on the Smart Grid integrity. DS2's UPA-based powerline technology provides much stronger security than today's wireless networks and will be compatible with future standards for Smart Grid such as is the standard from ITU for anywire connectivity, which is included in the the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) list of Smart Grid standards. includes point-to-point AES-128 encryption, ITU X.1035 authentication.

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