The utilities sector's transition to smart grids and open, network environments have left electrical grids susceptible to potentially devastating cyber attacks, ABI Research warns.
The research firm estimates that spending on cyber security solutions to attempt to secure power infrastructure will reach $2.9 billion (€2.2 billion) globally by the end of the year.
The implementation of ICT within electrical grids has historically all but ignored the issue of cyber security, with industrial control systems often having poor methods of authentication, encryption and intrusion detection.
“Cyber-attacks that can cause serious damage to electrical grids are a reality,” ABI Research senior analyst for cyber security Michela Menting said. “Operators need to view cyber security as a core, integrated requirement of their offering and not as a secondary add-on.”
Cyber threats to electricity grids have been a hot topic this week, after two US congressmen released a report stating that the US power grid is the target of daily cyber attacks.
The congressmen, Ed Markey and Henry Waxman, said one utility reported 10,000 attempted attacks per month. Others describe the rate of incursions as “constant.”
“National security experts say that cyber attacks on America’s electric grid top the target list for terrorists and rogue states, yet we remain highly vulnerable to attacks,” Markey said.
“We need to push electric utilities to enlist all of the measures they can now, and push for stronger standards in Congress that will keep our economy and our country safe from cyber warfare.”