Smart Grid Security: Little Debate, Lots of Money

When I think about smart grid security I get a tired-feeling like I’m being forced to watch the Bachelor on TV. That’s because the debate is largely over around how important it is (it is very), the U.S. government and standards bodies are taking it extremely seriously, and it’s clear that many companies are looking to the IT industry for cues on the architecture.

So what’s left to talk about then?: The money. A report from Pike Research predicts that utilities will spend $21 billion on smart grid cyber security between 2010 and 2015. Pike says utilities will spend the most on protecting distribution automation systems and transmission upgrades, followed by smart meter infrastructure.

That potential surge in the new market size is enough to get computer security firms drooling. These companies were the most vocal in 2009 for how important smart grid security will be, including IOActive, a decade-old computer security firm that boasts famous security geeks like Dan Kaminsky on its staff and is advised by Steve Wozniak.

To prepare for the coming boom in the smart grid security market — which was given a jolt by the close to $4 billion in smart grid stimulus funds — the National Institute for Standards and technology has been busy crafting standards and guidelines for smart grid security. Yesterday NIST updated the draft copy — initially released back in October — of the security requirements and suggestions with comments from the industry.

With a lot of the debate over how important smart grid security is, the next conversation will be over who are the leading smart grid security vendors. Watch for defense contractors like Boeing, and Lockheed Martin to move heavily into this market.

Image courtesy of Blueberry Pony’s photostream Flickr Creative Commons.