Recent Headlines Spur New Wave of Investment in Grid Security

In an article for Power Engineering, Navigant Research says utilities must be proactive in preventing attacks on electric power systems

Today’s electric utilities face a host of disruptive trends, with concepts like distributed energy resources, energy efficiency, and increasing competition usually topping the list of priorities. However, according to Navigant Research, grid security is an area that needs more focus, especially as attacks on electric power systems become increasingly frequent.

In an article for Power Engineering, Michael Kelly, research analyst with Navigant Research, says exponential growth in the number of attacks and threat actors is shaping a business environment in which the question utilities now face is when an incident will occur — not if.

“Cybersecurity threats pose a unique challenge for utilities due to their unpredictability,” Kelly wrote. “Unlike outage events related to weather or asset depreciation, utilities cannot foresee cyber-attacks with any level of accuracy.”

Kelly adds that while large-scale attacks have been limited to date, headlines such as the hack on the Ukrainian power grid in December 2015 and the more recent WannaCry ransomware attack are motivating utilities to expand beyond traditional, compliance-based management practices and begin actively addressing cybersecurity.

“Only recently has the issue of cybersecurity truly bubbled to the surface of utility decision makers’ minds,” Kelly said.

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