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The smart grid, generally referred to as the next-generation power electric system, relies on robust communication networks to provide efficient, secure, and reliable information delivery. Thus, the network security is of critical importance in the smart grid. In this paper, we aim at classifying and evaluating the security threats on the communication networks in the smart grid. Based on a top-down analysis, we categorize the goals of potential attacks against the smart grid communication networks into three types: network availability, data integrity and information privacy. We then qualitatively analyze both the impact and feasibility of the three types of attacks. Moreover, since network availability is the top priority in the security objectives for the smart grid, we use experiments to quantitatively evaluate the impact of denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on a power substation network. Our work provides initial experimental data of DoS attacks against a power network and shows that the network performance degrades dramatically only when the DoS attack intensity approaches to the maximum.