"Electricity is vital to the commerce and daily functioning of United States. The modernization of the grid to accommodate today's uses is leading to the incorporation of information processing capabilities for power system controls and operations monitoring. The 'Smart Grid' is the name given to the evolving electric power network as new information technology systems and capabilities are incorporated. While these new components may add to the ability to control power flows and enhance the efficiency of grid operations, they also potentially increase the susceptibility of the grid to cyber (i.e., computer-related) attack since they are built around microprocessor devices whose basic functions are controlled by software programming. The potential for a major disruption or widespread damage to the nation's power system from a large scale cyberattack has increased focus on the cybersecurity of the Smart Grid. […] The electricity grid is connected to (and largely dependent on) the natural gas pipeline, water supply, and telecommunications systems. Technologies being developed for use by the Smart Grid could also be used by these industries. Consideration could be given to applying similar control system device and system safeguards to these other critical utility systems."
CRS Report for Congress, R41886
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html