Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Smart grid security concerns limit innovation
Living up to expectations for a field called 'smart,' the security aspect of the smart grid industry is rather complex. In a way, however, it is also unintelligent due to the continued use of legacy protective solutions by many utilities. Despite the importance of implementing an advanced cybersecurity system, the technology is widely considered a money grabber, as many decision-makers choose to either deploy or avoid security programs depending on the implementation cost.
Alas, network security is and will always be recognized for its strategic necessity, especially as the cyber risk landscape grows more sophisticated and menacing. For this reason, among others, decision-makers are becoming more aware of the significance of implementing cybersecurity initiatives to mitigate risk.
This was highlighted in a recent study by Pike Research, which revealed the market for smart grid industrial control system cybersecurity is forecast to generate $369 million in revenue by the end of this year. Analysts predicted future growth is also in store for these programs, as revenues are estimated to reach $608 million in 2020. However, this growth is much lower than in other industries, suggesting that utilities are still using legacy security tools.
"Despite the improved awareness of potential threats and risks, many utilities remain reluctant to allocate security funding beyond that needed for compliance minimums," said Bob Lockhart, senior research analyst at Pike Research. "That will change as the technology improves, prices go down, and the cost of complacency becomes more apparent."
What is holding back network security initiatives?
Despite ongoing innovation within the cybersecurity landscape, many vendors simply share different views of the evolving risk landscape, as some believe there is a greater need for advanced protective strategies than others, the study noted.
A separate report by GTM Research revealed that the overall smart grid market is estimated to grow more than 70 percent between 2010 and 2015 when it will eventually reach $9.6 billion. Still, many utilities are discouraged by the potential pitfalls of implementing advanced security and distribution technologies, leading to slightly hesitant growth.
"Utilities are only beginning to deploy next-gen devices and to re-conceptualize how their grids will operate at the distribution level," said David Leeds, lead smart grid analyst at GTM Research.
In the coming years, data center decision-makers will need to use serial to Ethernet conversion tools to ensure all operations within the networks are highly functioning and secure. Neglecting to implement these solutions will likely have a major impact on smart grid operations in the future.
Perle's serial to Ethernet converters connect serial based equipment across an Ethernet network. The Perle IOLAN range of Console Servers, Device Servers and Terminal Servers feature built-in support for IPv6 along with a broad range of authentication methods and encryption technologies.