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Cloud computing's impending impact on smart grids

By Max Burkhalter
May 28, 2014

In the past several years, cloud computing has become one of the hottest, most widely adopted types of novel technology among public and private sector organizations alike, as the various tools contained therein can have dramatically positive impacts on spend efficiency, data accessibility and operational management. However, the security concerns that come along with this new era of corporate computing are vast, and must be tackled when the data involved is highly sensitive.

With many reports indicating that smart grids, as well as modernized utility systems in general, are potential targets of cybercriminals and hackers, the convergence of cloud computing with these advanced power frameworks might be a bit fear-inducing. A new report indicated that this might be exactly what is to come for the smart grid industry, and that security will need to be a focal point as the various transitions begin to occur. recently reported that cloud computing might actually prove to be a helpful tool in the fight to secure smart grid control centers, rather than a threat. This has been the opposite side of the argument for years, in that many believe cloud computing can enhance security through the centralization of management andoversight, which is particularly important given the massive proliferation of new devices that can act as entry points.

According to the news provider, researchers from North Carolina State University believe that the transition of moving control centers miles away from the main operating facility and into a hosted cloud environment would potentially improve the efficiency of oversight on top of the effectiveness.

"Our early tests indicate that the distributed computing approach would make the grid more resilient against both physical attacks and cyberattacks," AranyaChakrabortty, one of the researchers involved, told the source. "Our next step is to scale up the collaboration to get more detailed analysis of different types of attacks. The more we understand about our potential vulnerabilities, the better controllers we'll be able to design to protect our infrastructure."

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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