How utilities can prepare the next generation smart grid

As the convergence of physical and cyber threats continues to grow, companies in the energy sector need to work together to strengthen resilience and bolster response for the next generation smart grid, writes Scott Foster

Cyber attacks have dominated the headlines and devastated a slew of companies over the past few years – from Equifax to Yahoo, Deloitte to Merck – compromising millions of people’s information and costing billions of dollars in losses to those businesses.

But, of particular concern is the risk of attack on the electric grid, with one report showing that the US grid was being attacked as much as every four days by a cyber or physical attack – that’s nearly 100 times a year. What’s more, every year, the energy sector is among the top three most attacked critical infrastructure sectors in the US.

These repeated security breaches have raised concerns in the industry around the impact of a broader outage. Imagine how one widespread outage lasting even just a few days could disable everything in our increasingly connected, digital landscape, from traffic lights to cellphones. It could even threaten lives of patients in hospitals or other healthcare facilities that may have exhausted their backup power supply.

Those risks to the grid are increasingly top of mind for utility executives around the world. In fact, according to a recent report from Accenture, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of utility executives believe their country faces at least a moderate risk of electricity supply interruption from a cyber attack on electric distribution grids in the next five years. This figure rises to 76 per cent for North American utility executives alone.

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