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Smart Grid Vulnerabilities Could Cause Widespread Disruptions

A new cybersecurity coordination task force report highlights the need for planners to prepare for possible attacks on the U.S.'s smart grid and the technology it uses to transmit, distribute, and deliver electricity to consumers in a more reliable and efficient manner. The report, prepared by members from private industry, academia, regulatory bodies, and government agencies including the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, notes that there are many security vulnerabilities in the smart grid, including those that occur as the result of problems with authenticating and authorizing users to substations, key management for meters, and intrusion detection for power equipment.

Vulnerabilities in the smart grid also can be caused by inadequate patch, configuration, and change management processes, insufficient access controls, and the failure to create risk assessment, audit, management, and incident response plans. There also are a number of privacy concerns associated with the real-time, two-way communication between consumers and suppliers that the smart grid will allow, the report says.

One important issue that needs to be dealt with is the data that will be collected automatically from smart meters and how that information will be distributed and used throughout the grid. The report also points out that cybersecurity strategies for protecting the grid need to deal with both deliberate attacks and accidental security breaches that result from user errors, equipment failures, and software bugs.

From InfoWorld
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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