The four layers of smart grid security


By Charlie Osborne

Smart grids are slowly becoming part-and-parcel of the modern city, but what are the key factors to consider when protecting them?

Smart grids provide a network for consumers and energy providers to better regulate the flow and demand of energy, allowing real-time data analysis and the remote control of energy use down to the device level. However, they are not impervious to attack — and while utilities can benefit from improving the efficiency of energy flow, they are also responsible for keeping hackers out of the network.

If cyberattackers strike and infiltrate the network, they may be able to shut down core services in a city. Leslie Nemitoff, sales director, security services at Verizon Enterprise Solutions said:

“In this data-rich, ultra-connected digital world, with breaches on the rise fueled by hacktivism targeting specific companies and high profile brands, security naturally becomes a greater concern particularly for ICS environments in critical infrastructure such as utility companies.”

As noted by Verizon, the smart grid market is expected to grow from $33 billion in 2012 to $73 billion by the end of 2020. In order to protect this expanding market, the telecommunications firms recognizes four key layers that utilities and developers need to consider in order to protect smart grids:

  • Physical Layer — how are the smart grid components protected physically?
  • Cyber Security Layer — how are the smart grid components and systems protected from cyber hack and attack?
  • Privacy — how is the smart meter data protected so that a customer’s privacy remains intact?
  • Storage — just what do you do with all the data generated by the smart grid and how do you protect it?

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