The power industry is slowly moving towards alternate solutions to combat stringent environmental and economic deregulations. The necessity to improve the socio-economic sustainability of energy grids drives many nations to upgrade their power and energy infrastructure.

Smart grids are the best response to such challenges. Utilities want to strikes an optimum balance between the financial opportunities and uninterrupted service by cost-effective, secure, and interoperability of their assets. Additionally, smart grid have relatively lower carbon emission thereby making them popular.

The other side of smart grids

A smart-grid may also refer to a “system-of-systems” as it involves electrical components, communication protocols, IT infrastructure, and governance. Managing the cyber security and privacy aspects of such a system may be particularly challenging. It can be a potential target for malicious, well-equipped, and well-motivated adversaries with larger access to remote IT and telecommunication systems.

For example, malicious software can harm the grid control system, or the attacker can misuse the systems’ resources for their own benefit. Other risks include billing frauds, theft of personal data, attack on national defense etc. Nevertheless, it can be highly dangerous to the safety and integrity of the grid. Hence, immediate attention is necessary to eliminate such threats.

Cyber threats to the smart grids

The primary objectives of a smart grid should be different than traditional power supply framework. For example, a smart-grid is more focussed about data-privacy due to the various cyber vulnerabilities as opposed to asset availability. Then again, reduced asset availability is totally unacceptable for the utilities worldwide due to its economical impact.

Broadly speaking, cyber security issues are an immediate threat to all IT and communication devices (including digital meters/sensors) in a power supply network.  Hence, a smart grid has to prevent, prepare, and protect against all unexpected natural or man-made attack. The current challenges to this approach are four-fold;

  • Rapidly changing digital technologies
  • Limited functionality of legacy devices
  • Shorter lifespan of hardware, and
  • Relatively ambiguous standardization protocols on security

The way ahead

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers some insight to deal with such privacy issues and concerns. The key take-aways from their report are as follows.

  • Organizations must adhere to strict security and privacy policies
  • Complete transperancy during data collection
  • Users’ personal information cannot be collected without consent
  • Dislosure of such information must be accompanied with suitable documentation and reasoning
  • The user must be informed of prior to any data-sharing instances
  • Any slip-ups in the above should be coverable by users’ insurance claim

Our side of story

The NIST guidelines were motivating enough for SeetaLabs to design, promote, and offer the best available platform for smart-grid management. Our RONIN strikes an optimum balance between data-privary and real-time analytics to maximize the benefits of a digital transformer. Contact us immediately and don’t delay the emergence of a truly smart grid for yourself!