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ABI Research: smart utilities “highly vulnerable” to cyberthreats

According to a report from ABI Research, smart utilities are highly vulnerable to cyberthreats and security is, therefore, a primary concern.


But digital security has not been widely implemented in utilities due to cost, resource and time constraints. Additionally, issues with adapting cybersecurity to OT environments, and a lack of knowledge and expertise, contributes to this issue.

Moreover, public sector efforts to secure smart utilities has lagged since 2012-2013, when the U.S. and EU were driving national cybersecurity strategies, the research firm says.

However, both power and water utilities have reported advanced threats that exploit flaws in industrial control systems, according to Michela Menting, research director of digital security, ABI Research.

“More critically, run-of-the-mill cyberthreats such as ransomware and DDoS attacks are increasingly affecting operator’s cyber-assets, both on the back and front-end,” Menting said.

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Power and water grid stakeholders will spend over $8billion USD globally on cyber-securing utility infrastructures in 2018. But only a small amount will be dedicated to operational technologies and smart systems, the report says.

However, from a private sector perspective, there are a number of vendors that may be able to address these issues.

ABI Research suggests that grid modernization efforts are an ideal time to start designing and integrating digital security and provide a means for adapting existing mechanisms and processes to the OT space.