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Security - the key to smart grids and planets

Dec 08, 2011 by Martin Kuppinger

This week was the 6th National IT Summit in Germany. Like always, that's where big speeches are made and little happens. The German BITKOM (Bundesverband Informationswirtschaft, Telekommunikation und neue Medien e.V.), the IT and communications industry lobbyist association put the topic of smart networks (or grids) on the table. They requested initiatives (and money) to build such networks. That comes as no surprise, given that the smart world will require massive investments. So driving this forward makes sense.

However, the big problem to solve for this smart world - whatever it will look like - is security. I'd blogged about this quite a while ago, titled "Is an insecure smart planet really smart?" This question is not even still valid, it has become increasingly important. In Germany, there has been a large exercise - sort of a field exercise - just recently called LÜKEX. Many governmental organizations, police, and others are involved, this time upwards to 3,000 persons. In former years it has been about terrorist attacks with bombs and the like. This year it has been about CyberSecurity.

Networking the world requires a very well thought out approach on security. And it requires the willingess not to connect everything. The problem is that many of the initiatives around smart "whatevers" ignore this. There is a BITKOM presentation of mid 2011 which does not even mention security. Fortunately, BITKOM at least mentioned the need for security at the National IT Summit. Nevertheless it looks like the need is neither fully understood nor adequately prioritized. My perspective is that it has to be the priority number one for everything which is done around the smart world. Without security, nothing will be smart.

And even with well-thought security we have to be always aware that everything we network, especially including all the SCADA devices, will massively increase our security risks. So being not too smart might be smarter sometimes.

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Martin Kuppinger
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