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October 07, 2009

Webinar: Biggest Opportunities in the Smart Grid — GigaOM Pro

With recent calls for power grid 2.0 and an influx of stimulus dollars, the smart grid is fast becoming a reality. From long-time players such as GE, IBM, and Silver Spring Networks to more recent converts such as Cisco Systems, companies across Silicon Valley and beyond are turning their attention to opportunities within this rapidly evolving sector.

via pro.gigaom.com

This is the first Webinar I've attended sponsored by GigaOm Pro. I was a little disappointed in the quality of the information presented, as it seemed too non-specific.

The speakers didn't think that there would be the emergence of a new IT giant for smart grid management, but rather other players like Google (Google Powermeter) and HP (grid security service) would move into this vertical markets.

The Cyber Security Coordination Task Group of NIST published a draft of their Smart Grid Cyber Security Strategy and Requirements last month. From one section:

Cyber security must address not only deliberate attacks, such as from disgruntled employees,
industrial espionage, and terrorists, but inadvertent compromises of the information
infrastructure due to user errors, equipment failures, and natural disasters.  Vulnerabilities might
allow an attacker to penetrate a network, gain access to control software, and alter load
conditions to destabilize the grid in unpredictable ways.  The need to address potential
vulnerabilities has been acknowledged across the Federal government, including NIST, the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS), DOE, and FERC.  
Additional risks to the grid include:
•  Increasing the complexity of the grid that could introduce vulnerabilities and increase
exposure to potential attackers and unintentional errors;
•  Interconnected networks can introduce common vulnerabilities;
•  Increasing vulnerabilities to communication disruptions and introduction of malicious
software that could result in denial of service or compromise the integrity of software and
•  Increased number of entry points and paths for potential adversaries to exploit; and
•  Potential for compromise of data confidentiality, include the breach of customer privacy. 
With the adoption and implementation of the Smart Grid, the IT and telecommunication sectors
will be more directly involved. These sectors have existing cyber security standards to address
vulnerabilities and assessment programs to identify known vulnerabilities in these systems.
These same vulnerabilities need to be assessed in the context of the Smart Grid.  In addition, the Smart Grid has additional vulnerabilities due to its complexity, large number of stakeholders, and highly time-sensitive operational requirements. 


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