Will rising cybersecurity threats to our electricity system impact the reliability Canadians count on?

We are living in a world connected by the Internet, and it becomes more so by the minute. The electricity sector is not immune from the changes which are taking place more generally in society, such as the ubiquity of electronic technology and the acceleration of the introduction and adoption of new information technologies in our daily lives.

  • Just as is the case with all sectors of the economy, and individual Canadians, cyber risks and vulnerabilities are steadily increasing for the electricity sector. Electricity generation, transmission and distribution rely on the use of digital technology, such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and Digital Process Control (DPC) systems. The reliance on digital technology is set to accelerate as the industry moves towards what has been dubbed the smart grid; a future that will be characterized by a modernized electricity system that will actively monitor and more efficiently control the flow of electricity, but will depend on IP to do so.
  • Over the next several years, smart grid could revolutionize how we use electricity in the home. In the end, we will see the same types of advances in the power system that we are experiencing with our smart phones and computers. In fact, they will all be connected to bring us the smart home of the future. The challenge will be to get there without exposing the reliability of the electricity system unduly to cyber threats.
  • To meet these evolving and accelerating challenges, Canadian electricity companies have demonstrated leadership in addressing cybersecurity aggressively for more than a decade. But they have not been working in isolation. Partnerships with industry throughout North America have been a key aspect of the cybersecurity approach, recognizing the integrated nature of the electricity systems between Canada and the United States. And in light of the critical role electricity plays for all sectors of the economy, the industry has partnered with other sectors, governments, vendors and the academic community to seek creative solutions to evolving cybersecurity threats.