While the market for smart grid cyber security is still nascent, the competitive landscape includes established smart grid specialists, niche players, and well-known enterprise security vendors.  Paradoxically, although the larger cyber security market is often considered quite mature, this niche—smart grid cyber security – is not mature at all.  For the moment, in fact, size and scale actually appear to be somewhat of a disadvantage, and specialist companies have thus far fared well.  The ability to react quickly has so far prevailed over the advantages of larger, more established providers.  However, that is unlikely to be the case going forward.

According to a new Pike Pulse report published by Pike Research, the vendors best positioned in the rapidly evolving threat management market, a key segment within the larger smart grid cyber security sector, are Industrial Defender, IBM, and NitroSecurity.

“Smart grid cyber security remains a new market with an intriguing mix of innovators, control system specialists, and multinational security vendors,” says senior analyst Bob Lockhart.  “There are few enforceable regulations and many utilities have not yet deployed a full security solution.  There is much to play for in this market, and success is likely to require a mix of innovation, utility operations knowledge, and financial resources.  No one vendor has all of these yet.”

The highest-scoring company in this Pike Pulse report, Industrial Defender, has a detailed suite of industrial control system (ICS)-specific offerings for network security, event management, correlation, and compliance.  Unlike most of the companies pioneering this field, Industrial Defender has good political capital with utilities’ operations teams.  To date, the company has been the strongest innovator in developing solutions that are specific to smart grid cyber security.

The only large multinational to rank in Pike Research’s Leaders category, IBM is perhaps the only vendor taking a big picture view of the smart grid and cyber security markets going forward.  This could work against the company in the short term when it comes to specific product sales, but the vision is compelling.  The third company to score in the Leaders category of this Pike Pulse, NitroSecurity, was until recently an independent startup.  McAfee, itself owned by Intel, completed its acquisition of NitroSecurity on November 30, 2011. 

The “Pike Pulse Report: Smart Grid Cyber Security Threat Management” evaluates 15 of the leading cyber security threat management vendors in the smart grid market and rates them on 12 criteria for strategy and execution, including vision, go-to-market strategy, partnerships, product strategy and roadmap, technical innovation, geographic reach, market share, sales and marketing, product performance and features, product portfolio, control system focus, and staying power.  Using Pike Research’s proprietary Pike Pulse methodology, vendors are profiled, rated, and ranked with the goal of providing industry participants with an objective assessment of these companies’ relative strengths and weaknesses in the emerging smart grid cyber security threat management marketplace.  An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.