Thanks for IoT, energy industry is moving into new milestone of power efficiency as the aging electrical grids are transforming to advanced and digital infrastructure making smart grid as M2M network.
With new technologies, equipment works together to ensure consistently power deliveries, systems are efficiently managed to decrease power interruptions, surges or any potential incidents. It also ensured proper monitoring of energy usage to reduce expenses for users as well as energy producers. National Energy Technology Laboratory reported that “The smart grid’s ability to improve safety and effi¬ciency, make better use of existing assets, enhance reliability and power quality, reduce dependence on imported energy, and minimize costly environmental impacts are all market forces that have substantial economic value.”
Digital transformation and connecting industrial control system into the internet creates a big hurdle in industrial network security and energy grids are not exempted to cybersecurity threats. These were shown in the previous attacks like Ukraine’s power grid compromised by malware which leaves thousand users without power, South Korea’s Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, German steel mill and other cyberattacks on industries critical infrastructure. Sadly, cybersecurity threats are increasing in a massive scale, some are even state sponsored.
As connected web of devices increasing noticeable across the industries, connected energy grid adds a layer of cybersecurity complexity to the challenges that exists in traditional or legacy grid. Vulnerabilities includes physical like unprotected ethernet ports, intrinsic to protocols and cryptography flaws that allow attack to intercept communications. As cybersecurity threats increases, hackers are increasingly exploiting the lack of proper security to gain access to the energy grid critical infrastructures.
Having a resilient smart grid infrastructure that can survive cybersecurity incidents is a must in this new era of energy efficiency. It requires a joint effort of public and private sectors, policy, energy and security experts, policy makers and industry insiders.
Energy companies needs to be more pro-active, putting cybersecurity threats as one of industry priority concerns, by ensuring having cybersecurity teams and be able to separate their internet-connected corporate computers from the stations that control critical machines.