From AP - News Headlines -

Smart Grid Will Need Serious Cyber-Security

The next generation of the nation's electricity backbone will need stronger systems to protect it from attacks.

That's why the federal government is setting up an institute dedicated to computer security as it puts more than three billion dollars into improving the electric grid. The University of Illinois' Information Trust Institute will be a part of that effort, helping design software that keeps the improved power network safe from hackers.

Institute director Bill Sanders says the threat exists because the so-called "smart grid" will involve much more computerization than the current system.

"There's much more computerization, both on the distribution side -- and the distribution side is the kind of equipment you might have in your house that actually delivers the power to your house and the feedback and control there -- and on the transmission side, a wide-area data network that supports power generation and transports that power to somewhere near your house," Sanders said.

Three other universities are taking part in the five year, $18.8 million research program. The smart grid is expected to be more efficient and help consumers track and adjust their own power usage.