Though technological advancements in smart electrical grid create improvements in monitoring, they also act as an entry point for hackers, researchers have revealed.
Researchers from the Michigan Technological University said the reliability measures of electrical grid have risen to a new norm as they involve both physical security and cyber security.
Threats can trigger instability, leading to blackouts and economic losses.
"Ten years ago, cyber security simply didn't exist — it wasn't talked about and it wasn't a problem. Now hackers can plan for a cyberattack that can cause larger power outages, people are starting to grasp the severity of the problem," said Chee-Wooi Ten, Associate Professor at Michigan Technological University.
Hackers target specific parts of the control network of power infrastructure and they focus on the mechanisms that control it.
Automated systems control much of the grid from generation to transmission to use but without solid security measures, it also makes the systems vulnerable.
According to Ten, the fundamental problem is a gap between physical equipment and intangible software.
"With a better understanding of the system's weaknesses, it's easier to be strategic and shore up security risks. In the long run, improving regulations with specifics to match actual infrastructure needs and providing cyber security insurance will help," Ten suggested in a the paper published in journal IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid.