Cybersecurity is becoming all the more important as utilities begin adopting newer technologies such as smart electric meters. As the smart grid becomes more of a reality and attacks against electric utilities become more prominent, we must augment the public-private partnership model to improve grid security. The energy sector has built on the successful Pathfinder program, bringing together key stakeholders from the federal government, the military, and the private sector to advance information sharing, improve training and education on systemic risks, and develop joint preparedness and response activities. To build on these efforts, more work needs to be done to create government-backed economic solutions to allow for greater investment in cybersecurity. Revenues for utilities continue to decrease and nation-states are increasing their efforts to disrupt critical infrastructure in the United States. Economic solutions to assist the energy sector with their cyber security programs could include a mix of economic incentives like tax credits, direct investment by the government, and reduced regulations which work to increase the cost of energy. Smaller utilities often struggle with cybersecurity; they lack the cybersecurity tools and personnel to maintain robust security. The vulnerabilities of smaller utilities should be a concern of the entire industry because the ever-increasing connectivity of the smart grid presents high levels of systemic risk. Accordingly, the government and industry partners in the Pathfinder Program should focus on solutions that help to address the needs of smaller and midsize utilities.
Combining Technology, Public Policy and Economics to Create a Sustainable System of Cybersecurity