Information Security for the Smart Grid

4.1 Introduction

The operation of a Smart Grid relies heavily on two-way communication for the exchange of information. Real-time information must flow all the way to and from the large central generators, substations, customer loads and the distributed generators. At present, power system communication systems are usually restricted to central generation and transmission systems with some coverage of high voltage distribution networks. The generation and transmission operators use private communication networks, and the SCADA and ICT systems for the control of the power network are kept separate even from business and commercial applications operated by the same company. Such segregation of the power system communication and control system (using private networks and proprietary control systems) limits access to this critical ICT infrastructure and naturally provides some built-in security against external threats.

With millions of customers becoming part of the Smart Grid, the information and communication infrastructure will use different communication technologies and network architectures that may become vulnerable to theft of data or malicious cyber attacks. Ensuring information security in the Smart Grid is a much more complex task than in conventional power systems because the systems are so extensive and integrated with other networks. Potentially sensitive personal data is transmitted and, in order to control costs, public ICT ...

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