Smart Grid protected by smart money

Monday - 6/28/2010, 3:26pm EDT

Tom Billington, CEO, CyberSecurity Seminars

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

America's power system is made up of more than 3,500 different utility companies with more than $1 trillion in infrastructure assets, comprising more than 200,000 miles of transmission lines...serving over 300 million people through the United States and Canada.

The global smart grid cybersecurity market will grow to $4.1 billion in 2013 at a compound annual growth rate of 35%, according to Pike Research. About $21 billion is expected to be spent over the next five years in global smart grid cyber security deployments.

Tom Billington, CEO of CyberSecurity Seminars tells Federal News Radio "a large amount of the money is coming from the federal government."

He notes that smartgrid RFPs include "a cybersecurity component to protect the grid because it's so crucial."

According to Billington, there are two basic challenges facing the development of a smart grid: "There's a shortage of workers to address the problem," and a lack of "interoperable smartgrid cybersecurity standards" despite DHS, Energy, FERC, and NIST all collaborating to protect the grid.

At a briefing held last week by Billington's company, Annabelle Lee, Senior Cyber Security Strategist at NIST's Information Technology Laboratory, announced the newly renamed "Guidelines for Smartgrid Cybersecurity" will be released next month.

Part of the findings of the work done by Lee's Smart Grid Cyber Security Task Force at NIST, said Billlington, reflect a recent "Secret Service study, (that found) 35 to 45% of cyberattacks investigated occurred from the inside and of those...85% were malicious and deliberate."

Billington said Lee outlined threats to the grid as "deliberate attacks, they're inadvertent threats, and they're natural phenomena. Deliberate attacks include disgruntled employees, industrial espionage, unfriendly states and organized crime."

Billington considers the billions of dollars being invested in protecting the smart grid as money well spent. The funds, he said, will go towards safeguarding "the infrastructure that runs all the infrastructures in our country," and is important to focus on.