Smart grids have bee promoted as the energy solution of the future, and utilities throughout the United States are working to ensure they are protected, according to a new study from Pike Research.
The firm recently predicted that utilities will spend about $4.1 billion on Internet security measures for smart grids between this year and 2018. These investments will be part of the organization's efforts to completely overhaul the nation's energy services.
With steady increases, data security investments will reach $692 million annually by 2018. This year, utilities will spend about $309 million on security measures, according to the report.
"The smart grid changes everything, but when it comes to cybersecurity issues, much of the story remains the same," Pike Research senior analyst Bob Lockhart said of threats posed by hackers, according to eWeek.
More so than anything, utilities are keeping threats such as the Stuxnet worm in mind as part of their increased data security efforts. The cyber weapon was discovered last year and is believed to have been targeted at Iran's nuclear infrastructure. Such an incident could be devastating to the smart grid.
The security of the smart grid is a widely shared concern, as were revealed by the results of the recently released nCircle 2011 Smart Grid Survey. Seventy-seven percent of 544 respondents in the IT security industry said they were worried about data security when it comes to the smart grid.
Researcher Tim Erlin said that such concerns are not a surprise, considering the massive undertaking the deployment of the smart grid will require, namely the installation of meters at every American household. He said that will present many vulnerable targets for cybercriminals looking to launch a Stuxnet-type cyber attack.