U.S. DOE Examines New Cyber Security Risks on the Electric Grid

By JDavis | 2/11/11 6:21 AM

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) just announced a new initiative to assess the state of cyber security for the electric grid. DOE has already begun tapping numerous leads from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Department of Homeland Security as well as both public and private utilities to contribute to this open forum on cyber security.

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DOE: First Smart Grid Security Standards

By JDavis | 5/31/09 6:56 PM

In a “major step forward for the commercial implementation of America’s smart grid,” the Department of Energy announced the first 16 sets of the projected 100 standards. The fact that many of these standards are already dominant in the industry could help officials meet the tight September deadline. Of the 16, five focus on security.

That includes: the AMI-SEC’s System Security Requirements, the IEC’s standard for “Information security for power system control operations,” the IEEE’s “Security for intelligent electronic devices,” the North American Electric Reliability Corp.’s “Cyber security standards for the bulk power system,” and NIST’s “Cyber security standards and guidelines for federal information systems, including those for the bulk power system.” Given security is such a controversial issue, it’s smart to release some of these at the very start.

Compared with standards for the Internet or mobile communications, developing standards for the smart grid is much more complex because there are so many different industries and technologies involved. As Steve Widergren, the Smart Grid Interoperabilty and Standards Coordinator for the DOE, explained to us recently: “The smart grid is very heterogenous, and anyone acting like it’s homogeneous is vastly oversimplifying it.” To meet the needs of that complexity, the DOE is expected to name at least 100 more standards that will make up the smart grid over the coming weeks and months.

Reuters Katie Fehrenbacher further notes that “while these decisions are just the first steps in developing standards, allocating funds, and rolling out smart-grid technology, these early choices will have a big impact on the future of the industry.

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