As the ultimate grid modernization ecosystem for utilities, the smart grid uses computing, networking, security and other technology to allow a two-way flow of information from metering and grid devices back to the utility, allowing for real-time visibility into operations and remote control of energy consumption down to the device level. With a smart grid in place, industrial control systems (ICS) for utilities increase operational efficiency, reliability, economics and sustainability of the production and distribution of electricity.
According to a report from Navigant Research, the smart grid market will grow from $33 billion in 2012 to $73 billion by the end of 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10 percent.
“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,” said Leslie Nemitoff, sales director, security services at Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “The proliferation of smart grids that allow for better monitoring and control of both energy grids and customer premises requires secure, high-bandwidth network connections to support frequent communications and the resulting explosion of data.”
Verizon recognizes four “layers” of concern relative to securing the smart grid:
- 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?
“When it comes to securing assets, a one-sized fits all security posture may result in some organizations under-protected from targeted attacks while others potentially over-spend on defending against simpler opportunistic attacks,” Nemitoff continued. “By understanding and interpreting complex customer requirements through a risk-based approach, we can create customized assessment packages and help owners and operators of industrial control systems for utilities both define and manage the risk that often accompany the deployment of multifaceted technologies like the smart grid.”
For more information on Verizon’s solutions for energy and utility companies click here.