For utilities, the opportunities that the digital revolution has brought, go far and wide. But there are difficulties too. One of the main challenges that face the smart grid today is cyber security. With more going digital, there are more opportunities for hackers.

For this issue, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Technology is developing so quickly, which means the hackers are following suit. There is no simple system or remedy to have up your sleeve to deter all risk. Instead there needs to be collaboration within the industry to share knowledge and experience with others, and it’s essential that leadership is taken on key areas. Currently, there are few established solutions for these challenges. As we enter a new digitalised era, many issues are still new and unsolved. This underlines the importance of, and need for, leadership.

Earlier this week, we held an event with EDSO, the European Distribution System Operators’ Association for Smart Grids, to help achieve better leadership on smart grid cyber security. The aim of this event was to discuss the biggest security concerns within the energy sector currently, with attendees including utilities such as Innogy and associations such as ENTSO-E.

Along with EDSO, we aim to provide that leadership the sector needs in cyber security. We have taken responsibility for grid security requirements and testing, provide dedicated security training and exercises, and establish a research agenda covering the needs and priorities of European DSOs.

Smart grids create a host of opportunities for network operators, but unless we’re careful, the same will be true for hackers. Protecting our infrastructure and the people who use it will depend on openness and collaboration. Therefore it’s hugely important to focus on what is really important, act and go beyond traditional customer-supplier models to enable new ways of sharing and collaboration. We have to acknowledge that, like the finance industry, the energy industry also has to seriously invest in cyber security.