November 20, 2009

Securing the Smart Grid

  • Cisco Systems
The smart grid promises a more efficient way of supplying and consuming energy. In essence, the smart grid is a data communications network integrated with the power grid and collects and analyzes data about power transmission, distribution, and consumption - all in near-real time. Based on this data, smart grid technology then provides predictive information and recommendations to utilities, their suppliers, and their customers on how best to manage power.

At the heart of the smart grid is integration of the data communications networks of the generation, transmission, distribution, and customer components of the electrical grid. Increased connectivity presents many benefits, including giving consumers greater ability to control their power consumption and their energy bills. The smart grid also gives distribution and transmission grid operators more visibility and control over power supply, source, quality, and costs.

Increased connectivity also presents challenges, especially in security. Because of the critical nature of the technology and the services it provides, the grid becomes a prime target for acts of terrorism and vandalism. Therefore, the transformation of traditional energy networks to smart grids requires an intrinsic security strategy to safeguard this critical infrastructure.

As a result, a security vision must include a sound design for proactive security as well as resilience in the event of a security breach.

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