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By Michael Cooney
January 13, 2011
As the country's electricity grid undergoes a transformation and moves
toward a more intelligently networked, automated system, it faces an
increasing amount cybersecurity issues.
Watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office today said while the
increased use of smart grid systems may have a number of benefits,
"including improved reliability from fewer and shorter outages, downward
pressure on electricity rates due to the ability to shift peak demand,
an improved ability to transmit power from alternative energy sources
such as wind, and an improved ability to detect and respond to potential
attacks on the grid," many challenges remain.
From its report, the GAO identified the following six challenges that
are key to ensuring the cybersecurity of the nation's electricity grid.
* Lack of information: Consumers are not adequately informed about the
benefits, costs, and risks associated with smart grid systems.
Specifically, there is concern that consumers are not aware of the
benefits, costs and risks associated with smart grid systems. This
lack of awareness may limit the extent to which consumers are willing
to pay for secure and reliable systems, which may cause regulators to
be reluctant to approve rate increases associated with cybersecurity.
As a result, until consumers are more informed about the benefits,
costs and risks of smart grid systems, utilities may not invest in, or
get approval for, comprehensive security for smart grid systems, which
may increase the risk of attacks succeeding.
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